International Forum on the Social Science – Policy Nexus (IFSP)

A widely discussed Declaration

It was the suggestion of Steering Committee of the International Forum on the Social Science - Policy Nexus to adopt a final Declaration at the close of the Forum.

In order for such a Declaration to reflect the expectations of everyone concerned, the Committee wished the Declaration to be widely discussed. Therefore, a draft declaration was published online on 21 November 2005. It was extensively amended before and also during the Forum.


Declaration - FINAL TEXT

Buenos Aires Declaration
calling for a new approach to the social science – policy nexus


We, the participants in the International Forum on the Social Science – Policy Nexus, which has brought together for the first time social scientists and policy makers from more than eighty countries in all the regions of the world, coming from United Nations agencies, universities and governments, representing the full range of involvement in both social science and policy and meeting on the occasion of the closing plenary session of the Forum in Buenos Aires on February 24 2006, after four days of discussions organized in the cities of Buenos Aires, Rosario, Córdoba and Montevideo.

Inspired by the Declaration of the 1995 World Summit on Social Development, the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the 2005 World Summit Outcome Resolution, as well as by flagship reports on human development, world development and inequality by United Nations agencies and the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization.

Taking note of the demands placed on social science research by the development goals of the international community and of the impetus given by these and other international documents and initiatives.

Taking into consideration the Budapest Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge adopted by the World Conference on Science, which emphasizes the necessary enhancement of dialogue between science and society, as well as the Lisbon and Vienna Declarations on Social Sciences, both of which stress the indispensable contribution of social science to the social development objectives of the international community.

Taking into account several United Nations reports highlighting the sharp increase in inequalities between and within countries, and greatly concerned that the universal thrust of human rights, human dignity and justice is in many instances being eroded under contemporary social and economic pressure.

Assuming that the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals are not only the statement of new moral purpose but also the minimum threshold compatible with the proclaimed values of the international community, and affirming that failure to make serious progress towards achieving them would entail tremendous cost in terms of human lives, quality of life and social development.

Convinced that without moral vision and political will, the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals cannot be met, that meeting these goals requires new knowledge used in innovative ways and better use of existing knowledge, and that, in this regard, the social sciences have a crucial contribution to make in formulating development policy.

Taking note that addressing hunger and poverty, lack of education, poor health and environmental degradation – the five areas to which the eight Millennium Development Goals relate –, is crucial for human welfare, social and economic development, the achievement of social cohesion and the consolidation of democratic governance. None of these areas is solely within the purview of social science, but without social sciences none is fully comprehensible or capable of being addressed.

We thus state our conviction that better use of rigorous social science can lead to more effective policies and outcomes. Such use requires strengthening linkages between the social sciences and policies for social and economic development. For the knowledge that the social sciences seek is precisely the knowledge that policy needs. The world needs new forms of interaction between social scientists and policy actors – and innovative spaces to make them possible.

Commending UNESCO, the government of Argentina and the government of Uruguay for their initiative in launching the process that has led to the International Forum on the Social Science – Policy Nexus, it is with these urgent concerns in mind that we formulate the following recommendations and bring them to the attention of the international community.

  1. We strongly encourage UNESCO to strengthen this initiative and facilitate similar initiatives at the regional level at the request of its member States and in cooperation with other United Nations agencies, funds and programmes.
  2. We call upon UNESCO, through the MOST Programme and in close cooperation with the other organizations, institutes, funds and programmes of the United Nations system, to explore the ways and means for ensuring strengthened synergies and complementarities between the various policy-oriented social science research programmes within the United Nations system as a whole and international social science organizations and civil society.
  3. With due respect for the autonomy of social science research, we encourage the establishment of new networks and the strengthening of existing ones at the national and regional level to bring together social scientists, policy-makers, and non-governmental and grassroots organizations around their shared concern for the urgent demands of social and economic development.
  4. We call attention to the existence of Fora of Ministers for Social Development at regional as well as subregional levels in developing countries and suggest the creation and consolidation of permanent nexuses between the latter and the above mentioned networks.
  5. We therefore suggest that the International Forum on the Social Science – Policy Nexus, otherwise known as the Buenos Aires Process, be organized regularly in order to formalize and promote this linkage between both types of networks at the international level.
  6. We call upon the regional organizations such as MERCOSUR and the African Union, in association with social scientists and civil society, to further develop the social dimensions of regional integration, and call upon the United Nations to facilitate inter-regional dialogues on regional social policies.
  7. We call upon existing funding programmes, in particular donor agencies and multilateral and regional development banks, to participate in these new spaces of dialogue.
  8. We also call upon United Nations, regional and national funding agencies to place particular emphasis in their programming on the development and enhancement of social science research capacities in the developing countries, with special reference to Africa, and to finance policy relevant social science research.
  9. We further call upon governments to support social science research and use evidence from research in formulating social and economic policies.
  10. We stress that implementation of these recommendations requires relevant funding mechanisms and appropriate institutional structures to support both research capacities and the dissemination of social science research results. We further invite all academic communities, civil society, non-governmental organizations, governments, United Nations agencies, funding agencies and other relevant stakeholders to work towards this end.
  11. We call upon all participating national and United Nations agencies to ensure dissemination of this Declaration and of the work of the Forum to all relevant parties that can contribute to the implementation of the present recommendations.

Finally, we thank the governments of Argentina and Uruguay, and the local authorities and universities of Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rosario and Córdoba, for their major contribution to the success of the Forum and for their warm hospitality. We express our gratitude to the various organizations that contributed to this effort, in particular: UNRISD, UNDESA, ILO, the World Bank, UNU-CRIS, the International Social Science Council and the regional social science networks.

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