The 27 June 2023, a workshop was organized within the Sustainability Research and Innovation 2023 congress in Panama to discuss the content of an International Decade of Science for Sustainability. Here are the concluding remarks by Michel Spiro, the chair of the Steering Committee of IYBSSD.
This workshop “Toward an International Decade of Science for Sustainability” was a lively and fruitful session. I want to thank the organizers to having permitted this session under the flagship of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, within this reference congress SRI2023 in Panama.
I want to thank the moderator and master of ceremony of this session Carlos Alvarez Pereira for having chaired the session remarkedly. Carlos is Vice President of the Club of Rome. I want to thank all the speakers and all the participants to this session. I want to thank also Luc Allemand, secretary general of the International Year, who helped, behind the scenes, to prepare from Paris this session.
The International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, which we are celebrating this year and the year before, was proclaimed by consensus, by the United Nations General Assembly on 2nd December 2021 at the initiative of Honduras, whose resolution was supported by many countries. It is placed under the auspices of UNESCO. The opening ceremony took place on 8th July 2022 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, while the closing ceremony will take place at CERN, Geneva, on 15th December 2023.
The program of this International Year is rich and dense. Hundreds of events already took place worldwide. A large variety of topics have been treated, with particular focus on the contribution that Basic Sciences can give to Sustainable Development.
Rationale: Basic sciences are curiosity and inquiry driven. They increase the pool of knowledge that future generations will use to face their problems. They are the foundations of education and the sources of discoveries which turn into applications: they then contribute to serve an inclusive sustainable development. All together (education, discoveries, applications, and inclusive sustainable development) can boost collaborative and open Basic Sciences. This is the virtuous circle that we promoted during the International Year of Basics Sciences for Sustainable Development and that we want to promote after.
Basic Sciences can alert humanity on crisis to come and provide directions and ways to manage them. Already in 1972, the Club of Rome, which action was guided by curiosity and inquiry, issued alerts on the limits to growth and indicated possible ways to manage them thanks to the contribution of Basic Sciences and the knowledge it generates.
However, although essential, basic sciences are not enough, alone, to ensure a sustainable future to the society! We need all sciences, all knowledge, and a good connection to the society and to decision makers, what we call trans disciplinarity to grasp the sustainability issues, to act towards sustainability. To achieve this goal, we shall need you, teachers, scientists, society at large with the private and public sectors, decision-makers, intergovernmental and multilateral system to share this vision and act accordingly.
Sciences for sustainability are presently very fragmented thematically, geographically, and organizationally. This might be appropriate to get quick, local, and efficient actions.
But in addition, a worldwide organized system approach with a long-term strategy would be essential to reach an effective global action, and to face global challenges. Both science and society at large, knowledge and transformation must be embarked in a coherent way, to target equity, diversity, inclusion, (leave no one behind) and a healthy lively planet with a circular economy fueled by decarbonated energy.
- We need to mobilize, to connect, and globally organize people around the world on sciences for sustainability. A type of spider web network organization must be invented. Curiosity, emulation, and collaboration are the key words;
- We need to develop transformative strategies, especially through the science-policy-society nexus. The IPCC, IPBES models could be reinforced, covering all sustainability themes (5 themes: climate, biodiversity, ocean, continents, health maybe?), with added peer appointed scientists and with a coherent transformative roadmap, as an imperative for governments, based on acquired knowledge and data;
- Data indeed are essential. They should be verified, integrated, and serve as strategic milestones and compasses. A data integrated digital twin earth model could be considered as a central target activity.
That is the rationale behind an International Decade of Sciences, again of all Sciences, all knowledge, for Action towards Sustainability (including citizen and indigenous knowledge/science). This decade must be run bottom-up, from scientists and societal knowledge to the intergovernmental and multi-lateral system. We hope that a resolution in that direction, will be passed soon at the UN General Assembly.