7th World Science Forum declares science as key to achieving the Agenda 2030

© S. Colautti, Closing session of the 7th World Science Forum

A seven point declaration calling for the mobilization of the international scientific community to play a role in advancing the use of science to meet the objectives defined in the Agenda 2030, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction 2015-2030, and the agreement of the COP21 Paris Climate Change Summit was adopted during closing session of the 7th World Science Forum.

 

 

Organized by UNESCO, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), and the International Council for Science (ICSU), the forum was held in Budapest, Hungary from 4 to 7 November 2015 and brought together over 900 participants from over 100 countries including scientists, decision makers, representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society, research communities, industry, and the media to discuss science as an enabler to address today’s global issues.

Discussions revolving around the main theme of the forum “the enabling power of science” included bridging the gap between science and policy, science in policy making, global challenges to science, increasing scientific collaboration, the mutual engagement between science and society, science and innovation ecosystems, and science for peace and diplomacy. As part of the forum, UNESCO organized four parallel thematic sessions including: 1) Science for peace; 2) How to enable science through parliamentary governance; 3) The International Year of Light; 4) Renewable energy for global sustainability; and 5) Science governance in Africa: challenges and opportunities.

UNESCO’s key message to put science into action

UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for the Natural Sciences, Flavia Schlegel underlined the urgency to put science in action to frame the science agenda for the coming years, and emphasized the importance of the forum’s declaration to articulate and illustrate the role that science can play in its realization. “In essence science could be called a ‘public good’ which will enable and drive the realization of the new vision for humanity reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” She emphasized that successfully realizing the new agenda will require concerted action from all stakeholders to reinforce the interface of science with policy to help unpack complex economic, social and environmental problems; and to strategically apply science, technology, innovation and engineering to national and global objectives.

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, voiced the importance of science as a driver and enabler to craft new approaches that are inclusive, rights-based, and founded on solid scientific grounds. She called for “the integration of disciplines, to create new synergies, to use local and traditional knowledge, and to reach out for science to make the science-policy interface happen.”

A call is made by the international community to use science to solve global challenges

H.E. Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary stated in his address to the forum that science is crucial to addressing current global issues such as migration, maintaining peace and political stability. He called upon the global scientific community to “look for new possibilities coming out of the challenges and to find new solutions to overcome global challenges that are of common interest”.

This message was backed up by H.E. János Áder, President of the Republic of Hungary in his strong call for action and for active cooperation between researchers, politicians and other members of the society to solve global challenges. In his address he recalled the “responsibility of science to speak up in a language that is well understood by the world”. In ending he added that “the threat is real, our time is running out, but there is a chance for a change therefore we have a number of jobs to do and we cannot shift the blame to somebody else".

In her closing remarks, Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, President of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan made it very clear that “Today, only scientific ingenuity can respond to the defining challenges of our Century” and she stressed the crucial role of collaboration “Increasingly the development of science and technology at national, regional and global levels is driven by high level educated researchers and skilled work forces who are mobile and interactive. Indeed, the importance of scientific collaboration is greater than ever. Collaboration produces results, collaboration is, indeed, the way of the future”. Her Royal Highness Princess took over presidency of the next World Science Forum, which will be held in Jordan in 2017.

UNESCO Science Prizes

During the forum UNESCO’s two distinguished international science prizes were delivered. The first, the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science, which recognizes the work of an individual to interpret science, research and technology to a broad-based audience in effort to foster scientific understanding and public engagement, was presented to Argentinian scientist Professor Diego Andrés Golombek; and the second, the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation that recognizes the work of those who manage or preserve of the environment in a manner that is consistent with the policies, aims and objectives of UNESCO was awarded to Fabio A. Kalesnik, Horacio Sirolli and Luciano Iribarren of the Wetlands Ecology Research Group of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Presentation of the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030

During the closing ceremony the 2015 UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 was presented. The report provides global, regional and country-level information on recent trends and developments in science, technology and innovation policy and governance. The report is an essential baseline of information on the concerns and priorities of countries that should orient the implementation and drive the assessment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the years to come. The report, that comes out every five years, was officially launched on 10 November on the occasion of World Science Day for Peace and Development during a roundtable event in Paris at UNESCO Headquarters. The video of the event, which includes comments from the authors, is available on demand in English and French.

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