Since its inception in 1945, UNESCO through its mandate in education, the sciences, culture and communication has aimed to forge a culture of peace by fostering the generation and exchange of knowledge, including scientific knowledge, through international cooperation, capacity building and technical assistance to its Member States. It works to create the conditions for genuine dialogue between civilizations, cultures and peoples based upon mutual respect and respect for shared values. The Natural Sciences Sector contributes to UNESCO’s mission by using science to build peace, to eradicate poverty and to promote sustainable development.
Strategy and Programme
The 34th session of the UNESCO General Conference (in 2007) adopted the Medium-Term Strategy for 2008 to 2013 (Document 34 C/4) which sets out the strategic vision and programmatic framework for UNESCO’s action for this period. The two overarching priorities for this six year period are: Africa and gender equality.
In the field of the sciences, the overarching objective is mobilizing scientific knowledge and policy for sustainable development with the following three strategic programme objectives:
- Leveraging scientific knowledge for the benefit of the environment and the management of natural resources;
- Fostering policies and capacity-building in science, technology and innovation;
- Contributing to disaster preparedness and mitigation.
The Programme and Budget for Natural Sciences for the biennium 2012-2013 (Document 36 C/5) will be implemented within the framework of the Medium Term Strategy. For this two year period the two biennial priorities for the natural sciences are:
- Strengthening science, technology and innovation (STI) systems and policies for sustainable development, poverty eradication and a culture of peace and non-violence;
- Mobilizing science for the sustainable use of natural resources, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and for natural disaster reduction and mitigation.
Implementation of the natural sciences activities within the context of UNESCO's strategic planning and results-based management are grouped under seven Main Lines of Action:
- Promoting STI policies and access to knowledge;
- Building capacities in the basic sciences, including through the International Basic Science Programme (IBSP), in engineering and for the use of renewable energy;
- Mobilizing broad-based participation in STI;
- UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC): strengthening IOC it a view to improving governance and fostering intergovernmental cooperation to manage and protect oceans and coastal zones for the benefit of its Member States;
- Freshwater systems under stress and societal responses, incorporating the work of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP);
- Enabling the application of ecological and earth science for sustainability, including through the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) and the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP);
- Natural disaster risk reduction and mitigation.
The following cross-cutting themes are of particular focus: biodiversity, natural disaster reduction, engineering, science education, climate change and sustainable development in small island developing states.
Links to UNESCO’s main programmes in science:
- Water sciences
- Ecological sciences including MAB
- Ocean sciences (IOC)
- Earth sciences - IGCP, geoparks
- Basic sciences (IBSP)
- Science and technology policy
- Small Island Developing States
- Local and indigenous knowledge systems
- Climate change
- Renewable energy
- Natural Disaster Reduction
- Science education