Future Earth

A 10-year international initiative to deliver solution-oriented research in partnership with society for accelerating transformations to a sustainable world 

© Erik Pihl

Launched in 2015, Future Earth is a 10-year global research platform providing the knowledge and support to accelerate the transformation to a sustainable world. It seeks to pioneer new approaches to international research by advancing Global Sustainability Science, bringing together many disciplines – from natural sciences to social sciences – around a common research agenda. By actively involving society in the research process, Future Earth aims to develop a sense of ownership among people and personal commitment to sustainable lifestyles, building the social capacity needed for change.

Within Future Earth, UNESCO focuses on building and mobilizing relevant expertise in developing countries to enhance the chances of their direct involvement in Future Earth. UNESCO also promotes the mainstreaming of relevant Future Earth findings into education curricula and the uptake of scientific findings in policies and practices to advance transition towards global sustainability.

Future Earth was jointly established and scientifically sponsored by the UNESCO co-chaired Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability, an international partnership which brings together members from research, funding and the international sectors.

Context

No nation can face the challenges posed by the impacts of global change alone: these threats are global and interconnected, as are the sustainable solutions we need. To better understand the multiple drivers, interdependencies and complexities of global sustainability challenges, it is of crucial importance that all stakeholders take part in the process of finding the interdisciplinary and holistic solutions necessary to tackle these challenges.

Together, we must answer fundamental questions about how and why the global environment is changing. What are likely future changes? What are the implications for the wellbeing of humans and other species? What choices can be made to reduce harmful risks and vulnerabilities, enhance resilience and create positive futures? How can this knowledge support decisions and sustainable development?

Future Earth aims to provide these answers by bringing together many disciplines and knowledge systems, establishing a body of knowledge that is better able to support policy makers in developing robust policy solutions and their effective implementation. It is built on many decades of international research on global environmental change carried out by projects sponsored by DIVERSITAS, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP). Over 20 projects, ranging from the Global Carbon Project to the Earth System Governance project, have transitioned into Future Earth. From this intellectual base Future Earth is launching Knowledge-Action Networks to catalyze highly collaborative and crosscutting research and partnerships around eight key challenges to global sustainability.

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