World Social Science Report 2013: Changing Global Environments published
People, human behaviour and societies need to be at the heart of attempts to tackle the challenges of global environmental change. That is the argument underpinning Changing Global Environments, the 2013 World Social Science Report, which was launched on 15 November 2013.
The Report issues a call to action to the international scientific community, arguing for social scientists to collaborate with colleagues from the natural, human and engineering sciences to address the most critical challenges of global environmental change.
The work highlights the potential for Future Earth to provide a framework for the integration of different perspectives from across the scientific community, underlining the importance of bringing policymakers, practitioners, business and industry – as well as other sectors of civil society – into the co-design, co-production and co-delivery of the best scientific solutions for global sustainability.
Frans Berkhout, Interim Director of Future Earth, and Susanne Moser, a member of the Future Earth Science Committee, were the Senior Editorial Advisors for this report.
Changing Global Environments was published by UNESCO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC).
Final report of the Transition Team published
Paris, 4 November 2013 — Future Earth has just published the final report of the Transition Team, the group of experts that led the initial design of the research initiative on global sustainability.
The team comprised seventeen members from a wide range of disciplines and countries, and also included ex-officio members representing the main partners of the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability.
Co-chaired by Johan Rockström and Diana Liverman, the team proposed a vision for integrated and solutions-oriented research that can support a transformation towards global sustainability over the coming decade. The report sets out the initial design of Future Earth, comprising a research framework and governance structure, preliminary reflections on communication and engagement, capacity-building and education strategies, and implementation guidelines.
Structuring the research agenda around three central themes – dynamic planet; global development; transformations towards sustainability – the report details the key research questions that will be addressed in each area. At its core lies a new partnership between science and society to co-design research priorities and co-produce knowledge.
To ensure that the research conducted under the umbrella of Future Earth is actionable, relevant to stakeholders and done to the highest scientific standards, the team also designed a unique governance structure for the initiative. Led by a multi-stakeholder Governing Council, the ultimate decision-making body, Future Earth's direction will be guided by a Science Committee and an Engagement Committee. The Science Committee will provide scientific guidance, ensure scientific quality and guide the development of new projects. The Engagement Committee will provide leadership and strategic guidance on involving stakeholders throughout the entire research process from co-design to dissemination, ensuring that Future Earth produces the knowledge that society needs.
The recommendations of this report are now being taken forward by the Future Earth interim secretariat, and the full initiative is expected to be up and running by the end of 2014.
A PDF of the full report can be downloaded now, hardcopies will be available soon.
Future Earth interim Engagement Committee announced
Paris, 21 October 2013 — Future Earth announced today the establishment of an interim Engagement Committee with seven members who will work on connecting Future Earth science with society.
Robert Watson will chair the committee, which will provide strategic guidance to Future Earth on how to engage stakeholders and ensure that the Future Earth science agenda is informed by user perspectives. It will also work on the establishment of the permanent Engagement Committee.
"Future Earth aims to provide the scientific knowledge needed for a sustainable world through trans-disciplinary research. We need an Engagement Committee to understand what the key research needs are for the full range of stakeholders," said Watson.
The main roles of the committee are to :
- provide strategic advice from a user perspective on Future Earth research, engagement, and other activities;
- support the initial implementation of Future Earth, in particular by supporting its work with stakeholders; and
- develop recommendations on the roles and responsibilities of the Engagement Committee and advise on the establishment of the full Committee.
The interim committee will work closely with the Science Committee to develop the scientific agenda and ensure that co-design has a prominent role. It will also work with members of the Science and Technology Alliance and the Interim Secretariat of Future Earth to develop the terms of reference for the permanent committee.
“It is absolutely vital for science to work in partnership with government, business and civil society to develop new perspectives and solutions to the great sustainability challenges in energy, climate, food, water and biodiversity. The interim Engagement Committee has a major role to play to ensure that Future Earth delivers on its ambitious agenda," said Frans Berkhout, Interim Director of Future Earth.
The full list of members is available.
Remembering Bertha Becker
Paris, 23 July 2013 — Bertha Becker, a world-renowned researcher in the Amazon and member of the Future Earth Transition Team which designed the new 10-year programme for research on global sustainability, passed away on July 13, aged 82, in Rio de Janeiro.
A political geographer who dedicated her career to research in the field, Becker was a highly respected expert in geopolitics and land issues of the Amazon. She trained as a geographer at the National University of Brazil and did her PhD at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where she has taught for the past four decades. Member of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC) and the Academia Brasileira de Ciencias (ABC), Bertha did postdoctoral studies in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She was also vice-president of the International Geographical Union from 1996-2000.
She is fondly remembered by the global team of scientists led by Johan Rockström and Diana Liverman who worked for two years on the conceptual design and research framework for this ambitious programme.
“Bertha gave Diana and myself invaluable support throughout our work with the Transition Team, always sharing her wisdom and insight generously. A strong voice for global sustainability and development research has left us,” said Rockström, who is Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Center.
“Bertha was a positive presence on the Transition Team, especially encouraging of our efforts to create a more interdisciplinary, international and innovative vision and was so happy that we launched Future Earth last summer at Rio+20 in her home city,” said Liverman, who is co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona.
Becker published about two dozen books and more than a hundred articles.
Call for expression of interest to host permanent secretariat of Future Earth
Paris, 9 July 2013 — The Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability is launching an open competitive process for the selection of a permanent secretariat for Future Earth, a 10-year international research programme dedicated to generating new knowledge for challenges posed by global environmental change and transitions towards global sustainability. The call is being managed by the International Council for Science (ICSU).
The successful bid will host a permanent secretariat – which should comprise a headquarters and regional nodes – for the 10-year research programme. The secretariat will coordinate research activities, handle the day-to-day management of Future Earth, and liaise with key stakeholders.
Interested parties (whether individual organisations or consortia of organisations) are invited at this stage to express their interest by reviewing the briefing document and completing a template. Following this first step (expression of interest), a bidders’ conference (step 2) will be organised to discuss the requirements further and enable bidders to meet with other potential bidders so that they can self-organize for the call for full proposals (step 3) where bidders are expected to submit full proposals (comprising a headquarters and regional nodes, with secured funding). The Future Earth secretariat is expected to be appointed in mid-2014 and be fully operational by the end of 2014.
All expressions of interest should be submitted not later than 23 September 2013.
Future Earth Interim Director announced
Paris, 1 July 2013 — The International Council for Science (ICSU), on behalf of the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability, announced today that Professor Frans Berkhout will be the Interim Director of Future Earth.
Professor Berkhout will lead the implementation of Future Earth – bringing existing and new research communities and stakeholders together to deliver solutions-oriented knowledge for global sustainability.
He will take up his 18 month role on July 1, 2013. By the time he completes his mandate, Future Earth will be fully operational, with a permanent, regionally-distributed programme secretariat in place.
Future Earth Science Committee announced
Paris, 16 June 2013 — The International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), on behalf of the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability, announced today the members of the first Science Committee for Future Earth.
Mark Stafford Smith, Science Director of CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship in Canberra, Australia will be the inaugural Chair, Melissa Leach, Director of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre in the UK and Belinda Reyers, a Chief Scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa, will serve as Vice Chairs.
Article published in Nature
21 March 2013 — Authors involved with Future Earth have published a paper in Nature - "Sustainable development goals for people and planet". The article is (paywalled) on the Nature website and there is also a Reuters story about it.
Future Earth was launched at thefor Sustainable Development and at other key events throughout Rio+20.
- Future Earth at Planet Under Pressure
7 March 2012
The Planet Under Pressure Conference on 26-29 March 2012, a major international conference focusing on solutions to the global sustainability challenge, provided a unique opportunity for Future Earth to share its vision with a wider audience and stakeholders. Future Earth was presented there at a key event on March 27.
Download the State of the Planet declaration.
- "Future Earth" is born
14 December 2011
The second Transition Team meeting just concluded in San Francisco agreed that the Initiative will be called "Future Earth - research for global sustainability". The meeting worked towards the formulation of a conceptual framework, a research strategy and an institutional design for Future Earth.
- ICSU General Assembly approves establishment of new Initiative
28 September 2011
The ICSU General Assembly approved the establishment, in cooperation with the other partners of the Alliance, of a new 10-year initiative on Earth System Sustainability. .