22.06.2012 - ODG

Rio+20: Irina Bokova underscores UNESCO’s support for the Future Earth Initiative

© UNESCO/Cheikh N'Diaye - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at the International Council for Science (ICSU) side event entitled “Enhancing science-policy links for Rio+20: the Future Earth initiative”, 22 June.

On 22 June, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova attended the International Council for Science (ICSU) side event entitled “Enhancing science-policy links for Rio+20: the Future Earth initiative”.

Participants discussed efforts by the scientific community to collaborate with policy-makers and other stakeholders to deliver the knowledge needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), improve science-policy links, and develop a new mechanism for international scientific cooperation and collaboration on sustainable development, particularly through the Future Earth Initiative.

The Director-General underscored UNESCO’s support for Future Earth and observed that “the conviction that interdisciplinary knowledge is essential to solve complex issues is now a consensus”. She said that “the new context for science and technology requires working in an integrated manner and providing solution-oriented research”.

Recalling the recommendation of the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability to strengthen the science-policy interface, the Director-General informed participants that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has requested UNESCO to take the lead in creating a Scientific Advisory Board tasked with providing him with comprehensive advice on how science and technology can support the transition to global sustainability and on all dimensions of science, technology and innovation for sustainable development.

The Scientific Advisory Board will also promote cooperation among various UN agencies and with the international scientific community.

“I will ensure that the Scientific Advisory Board draws on the wealth of expertise of the UN system and from major international scientific organizations”, said the Director-General pointing to its fruitful collaboration with Future Earth in the future. 

Future Earth, a global research programme for understanding and coping with risks from global environmental change, was jointly established by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Belmont Forum, UNEP, UNU and UNESCO, with WMO as observer. The initiative aims at co-designing knowledge by collecting views from multiple disciplines, including the natural and social sciences as well as engineering, arts and the humanities in order to meet current sustainable development demands. It will build on the successful track record of policy-relevant research programmes and assessments, such as the Global Carbon Project, the Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), and the IPCC.


Diana Liverman, co-chair of the Future Earth Transition Team and chair of the side event, explained that the initiative will integrate scientific capacities across thematic areas, including planetary boundaries, DRR and governance.



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