The 8 top challenges to secure a sustainable future

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 26 May 2016 16:26
UN reveals the top challenges for the planet's future
UN reveals the top challenges for the planet's future

Leading global experts have identified eight key scientific challenges that must be tackled to ensure a sustainable future.

The UN Secretary-General's Scientific Advisory Board revealed the list have during their third meeting, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this week. The central function of the Board is to provide advice on science, technology and innovation (STI) for sustainable development to the Secretary-General and to the UN system.

Established by UNESCO on behalf of Ban Ki-moon, the Board brings together the collective capacity of all relevant scientific fields, with due regard to social and ethical dimensions of sustainable development.

"This year, Member States will take decisions to shape a better future for all" explained Ban Ki-moon in his message to the Board. "We must harness the full power and authority of the sciences, to shape and implement the post-2016 development agenda, locally, nationally, regionally and globally. The role of the Scientific Advisory Board is essential in supporting States and societies to chart new paths towards more inclusive, sustainable development."

The Scientific Advisory Board was officially opened by the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Tan Sri Dato' Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, who underscored the key role of science to creating jobs, generating income, alleviating poverty and safeguarding the global commons. "Achieving each global priority will call for the input of science - science matters to all and underpins almost everything we do."

The Board concluded its 3rd meeting with recommendations on a range of issues from how to coordinate global data collection and create access that reduces the data divide between rich and poor, to improving the use of scientific knowledge in policy-making at all levels, along with advice on leading climate change-related risks.

"Never before has the world faced such a need for sound scientific knowledge and expertise, to better understand and tackle rising global challenges" said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, co-chair of the meeting. "The Scientific Advisory Board brings together a range of disciplines, crossing thematic boundaries and policy lines. We need precisely this kind of 360° vision to better understand the challenges the world faces today and to craft new - vision-driven - solutions to tackle them."

Prof. Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and co-chair of the Board, underscored that "the Scientific Advisory Board of the Secretary-General is a reflection that science is global, increasingly interconnected and multidisciplinary. The challenge for us now if how to reap maximum benefit of global science; how to ensure that the fruits of science are best used to address current and global issues, and to prepare for the opportunities and challenges of the future."

Conclusions and recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General

Top challenges for the future of humanity and the planet:

* One ocean, many countries: Building a "Blue Economy" sustainably

* Addressing threats to biodiversity and establishing a new paradigm for the global tropics

* Developing a comprehensive strategy against infectious agents, including a global system for immediate response

* Investing a fraction of GDP in research and education in basic science

* Averting enormous human disasters through prediction

* Emissions-free technology: Changing the fossil fuel paradigm

* Providing drinkable water for all

* Finding solutions for a world overwhelmed by unequal resource-use and continued population growth.

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