Sixth World Science Forum gets under way

World Science Forum 2013

Much of the programme for the World Science Forum on Monday 25 November was taken up with the three plenary sessions on Inequalities as Barriers to Global Sustainability; Science Policy and Governance: Inventing the Future and; Scientific Integrity.

Six parallel thematic sessions followed on the themes of: Amazonia, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development; The Medical Challenge of Old Age; Science Diplomacy; Sustainable Planted Forests; Applying Ocean Sciences and Knowledge for Societal Benefit: Demands after Rio+20 and; The Role of Higher Education in Building a Critical Mass for Global Sustainability.

The World Science Forum got under way in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) at 6 pm on 24 November with an official opening ceremony. First to speak was His Excellency Michel Temer, Vice- President of the Federative Republic of Brazil. He was followed by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, Jacob Palis, President of the Brazilian Academy of Science, József Pálinkás, President of the Hungarian Academy of Science and Gordon McBean, President-Elect of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

The theme of this year’s forum is Science for Global Sustainable Development. In her opening address, Ms Bokova observed that ‘this science forum occurs at a moment when countries are accelerating towards the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All by 2015, when the international community is shaping a new sustainable development agenda to follow. The new agenda must make the most of development multipliers, cross-cutting accelerators of sustainability and this is where science comes into the picture, along with science diplomacy. Climate change, loss of biodiversity or water pollution cannot be kept outside national borders’, she said. ‘Humanity shares a single destiny – we must act with single determination to craft the future we want for all’.

The Director-General called for ‘more integrated science – transdisciplinary, drawing on the full range of scientific, traditional and indigenous knowledge, including the social and human sciences. We need more connected science’, she said, ‘science that is linked to policy-making, that responds to the needs and aspirations of societies’.

Immediately after the opening ceremony, Ms Bokova awarded two UNESCO prizes, namely the Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science (AR, CH, EN, FR, SP) and the Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation (AR, EN, FR, SP).

The biennial World Science Forum was established after the World Conference on Science (1999), which had been organized by UNESCO and the International Council for Science in Budapest, Hungary. From 2003 to 2011, the World Science Forum was held in the capital of Hungary but every second forum will now be hosted by another country. Brazil is the first country outside Europe to host the forum.

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