Natural Sciences

Big Solar Furnace in Parkent near to Tashkent ©UNESCO

UNESCO is the only United Nations specialized agency with SCIENCE inscribed in its name and with a specific mandate to promote international cooperation in science in the interests of peace, human rights and development.

The Natural Sciences Sector contributes to UNESCO’s mission by using science to build peace, to eradicate poverty and to promote sustainable development. The Sciences sector implements major international programmes in the freshwater, marine, ecological, earth and basic sciences, while at the same time promoting national and regional science and technology polices and capacity building in the sciences, engineering and renewable energy. Emphasis is given to developing countries, in particular to Africa and to natural disaster prevention.

Programmes are designed to respond to the international goals and challenges of climate change, gender equality, the eradication of poverty and sustainable development, in particular in small island developing states. UNESCO acts as an advocate for science, as a platform for sharing ideas and standard setting, and promotes dialogue between scientists and policy makers. It empowers and catalyses innovative initiatives in the field of international cooperation in science, in particular through networks and capacity building activities.

Implementation of the natural sciences activities within the context of the UNESCO strategic planning and results-based management are grouped under four Main Lines of Action.

  • Fostering policies, technical capacity-building, research, networking, education and international cooperation in the fields of water, ecological and earth sciences for enhancing societal responses
  • Oceans and coastal zones: improving governance and fostering intergovernmental cooperation through ocean sciences and services
  • Promoting science, knowledge and education for disaster preparedness and mitigation, and enhancing national and regional coping strategies, including through support or the development of risk reduction networks and monitoring and assessment measures, such as tsunami early warning systems
  • Supporting science, technology and innovation policies for sustainable development and poverty eradication, and developing capacities in basic sciences, energy and engineering.

The Natural Sciences Sector leads UNESCO’s interdisciplinary work in the following fields: UNESCO action to address climate change, science education and contribution to the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the sustainable development of small island developing states. Within the Natural Sciences Sector, interdisciplinary work focuses on disaster mitigation, urban issues, climate change and energy, with coastal zones as a cross-cutting theme.

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