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The UN Scientific Advisory Board Holds its Inaugural Meeting – “We Need Science”

Tuesday, 11 February 2014
The United Nations Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) consisting of 26 internationally leading scientists held its inaugural meeting from 30 to 31 January 2014 in Berlin at the invitation of the German Federal Government. The session was organized by UNESCO, in cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office and the German Commission for UNESCO. It was attended by Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, Irina Bokova UNESCO Director-General, Executive Headers of other UN organizations and high-level officials from German government.

The ultimate objective of the meeting was to launch a discussion on concrete strategies and measures designed exclusively to tighten the linkage between the science and policy, so as to better address environmental, financial and social dimensions of sustainable development, extreme poverty and inequalities as well as to define priority scientific issues for sustainable development.

The establishment of the Scientific Advisory Board, whose Secretariat is within UNESCO, was first announced at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 and finally created  by Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General on 24 September 2013, during the inaugural meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development*. Composed of eminent scientists from all continents in varied natural, social and human disciplines, the Scientific Advisory Board is meant to serve as an interface between UN and global scientific community so that the latest scientific findings can be effectively integrated in policy-making processes. In its tasks the Board will provide invaluable advice on science, technology and innovation for sustainable development issues to the Secretary-General and Executive Headers of UN organizations in an effort to strengthen the ties between science and policy, , to respond to  social needs and to effectively serve international common interest.

Through his decision to create the UN Scientific Advisory Board, Ban Ki- Moon underlines the fact that international and inter-disciplinary scientific collaboration is a precondition to reach global sustainability.

It is to be noted that as the 2015 completion date for the eight MDGs expires in less than 700 days, establishing the SAB is an indispensable part of the UN strategy to mobilize science in order to achieve in particular Environmental Sustainability which is one of the eight anti-poverty goals. Furthermore, it is vital to strengthen the science- policy interface towards the universal climate agreement by the end of 2015 and ensure the integration of scientific perspectives into the post-2015 development agenda.

As was pointed out by Ban Ki- Moon, UN Secretary –General: “We need science to understand our environment, to protect it and use it wisely”. He added: “Science is also needed to tackle hunger and food security, growing inequalities, disaster prevention, urbanization, sanitation and sustainable energy for all.”

* According to Article 7” of the UN Charter:
1.There are established as principal organs of the United Nations: a General Assembly, a Security Council, an Economic and Social Council, a Trusteeship Council, an International Court of Justice and a Secretariat.
2.Such subsidiary organs as may be found necessary may be established in accordance with the present Charter.
In this context, the UN Secretary – General had the competence to create the UN Scientific Advisory Board.

Sources: UN, IISD Reporting Services, UNESCO
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