‘Global challenges offer unique opportunity for collaborative research’

World Science Forum 2013

The Declaration adopted by the participants in the sixth World Science Forum in Rio de Janeiro on 27 November sees global challenges as a ‘unique opportunity’ for collaborative research on an equitable basis.

It observes, however, that ‘excessive inequalities in natural resources, highly skilled talent, strategic knowledge resources and research infrastructure are inhibitors of meaningful cooperation and are the foundation of political, social and economic tension.’

For this reason, ‘policy actions to promote sustainability must also aim at decreasing inequalities around the globe, with special attention directed to education, research infrastructure and access to strategic knowledge resources.’ ‘Governments ‘need to understand that strong investment in education, and deep changes in science education, are closely linked with social inclusion, prosperity, effective citizenship and the building of a sustainable future for the planet.’

The Declaration goes on to say that ‘it is the responsibility of both those who promote science and scientists to maintain the primacy of moral and social concerns over short-term economic and political interests in the selection and implementation of research, development and innovation projects by governments or private industries.

‘Social inclusion, as a key part of sustainable development, is an ethical and strategic imperative of scientific research, technology, and innovation’, it states.

Moreover, policies will be more effective in addressing global sustainability issues if they integrate the natural, engineering and social sciences.

For the signatories of the Declaration, ‘the world’s scientific community should share a universal code of conduct addressing the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of scientific researchers and universal rules of scientific research. These rules and policies should be respected by the states and adopted by their national legislations.’

‘It is the responsibility of policy-makers to promote new patterns and attitudes for the sustainable and responsible use of the resources of the Earth.’

For its part, industry is urged ‘to develop new production methods that enable it to both meet economic goals and avoid over-exploitation of resources, in cooperation with the science community and political decision makers.’

Society itself must be ‘engaged and empowered to participate in the discussion and evaluation of environmental, moral and ethical questions on globally unsustainable consumption levels.’ If we are to obtain the social transformation required for sustainable development, ‘the science-policy-society interface must be strengthened as a space for dialogue and engagement’, say the participants.

The Declaration recalls that it is ‘the primary responsibility of governments, particularly parliamentarians in both the developed and the developing world, to establish sustainable mechanisms for the funding of scientific research and to guarantee that it fulfils its role to serve’ society.

It concludes by observing that scientists, decision-makers and society need to engage in the design of the post-2015 development agenda, as this process will pave the way to achieving global sustainable development.

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