Basic sciences are the sine qua non for sustainable development

Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development is the ambitious program that the Member States of the United Nations have agreed on to ensure a balanced, sustainable and inclusive development of the planet.

Basic sciences have an important contribution to make to the implementation of this program. They provide the essential means to meet crucial challenges such as universal access to food, energy, health coverage and communication technologies. They enable us to understand the impact of the currently nearly 8 billion people on the planet and to act to limit, and sometimes even to reduce it: depletion of the ozone layer, climate change, depletion of natural resources, extinction of living species.

Applications of technology are easy to recognize. On the other hand, contributions of basic, curiosity-based, sciences are not well appreciated. They are nonetheless at the basis of major technological advances that stimulate innovation, as well as essential for training future professionals and for developing capacity of populations who can take part in decisions that affect their future. UNESCO is well aware of this: its Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers, revised in 2017, recalls the importance of bringing together politicians, scientists, diplomats, international organizations, entrepreneurs and every goodwill person.

The International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, that we will organize in 2022, will focus on these links between basic sciences and the Sustainable Development Goals. This will be a unique opportunity to convince all stakeholders that through a basic understanding of nature, actions taken will be more effective, for the common good.

Michel Spiro, President of IUPAP

“Basic sciences provide the essential means to meet crucial challenges such as universal access to food, energy, health coverage and communication technologies.“

Michel Spiro, President of IUPAP

An international year: what for?

Agenda 2030, adopted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, is an integrated vision for the sustainable development of all the world’s populations. It is articulated into 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards which we must collectively strive. All SDGs require the input of science and technology.
Basic sciences help to identify mechanisms to adequately use knowledge and transfer technology. The States that agreed to Agenda 2030 recognize this, since they have at the same time created the Technology Facilitation Mechanism. In particular, the latter organizes the annual Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development Goals.
Essential tools to ensure multicultural dialogue, political stability and peace, essential to the implementation of these SDGs, are also provided by basic sciences. The latter provide the training skills and know-how necessary for the application of innovations that countries need to move from general goals to effective actions. The operational models and practical ways of networking developed by the basic sciences community will contribute to ensuring the effective implementation of the SDGs.

  1. Enhancing inclusive participation in science
    The participation of all individuals who wish to, whatever their origin, their social or geographical position, or their gender, is essential for the progress of basic sciences.
  2. Financing basic science
    Examples of financial support to basic sciences will be showcased, including their results, and the replication of these experiments will be encouraged.
  3. Strengthening education and scientific training
    The International Year will promote education and teacher training into basic sciences.
  4. Generalizing open access
    Open access promotes the global circulation of knowledge and encourage interaction between scientists.

“It is most often after long and in-depth research on issues that can be very theoretical, and with many failures on the road, that the scientific revolutions that drive technological transformations are born.“

Tran Thanh Van, Founder of the International Center of Interdisciplinary Science and Education (ICISE), Vietnam

Themes

The International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development will be developed on the basis of themes identified as priorities by UNESCO and the United Nations. It will encourage exchanges between scientists and all categories of stakeholders, whether from grassroots communities or political decisionmakers and international leaders, as well as associations, students and local authorities.

  • Strengthening the presence and the visibility of women
  • Basic sciences as sources of international dialogue and peace
  • Science as a global public good
  • Innovation and economic development
  • Education and human development
  • Meeting global challenges

“In developing countries, thousands of young minds are ready to assimilate the basic sciences and design progress necessary for a more harmonious development.“

Nicole Jeanne Moreau, President of the International Program on Basic Sciences, UNESCO