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Annual Report 2007

Message from the President

It has been a great privilege to serve as President of ICSU. Looking back as my term comes to an end, it was an exciting and challenging time, particularly as ICSU embarked on the implementation of its first-ever Strategic Plan. I would like to thank the ICSU family and the wider scientific community for their support. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Catherine Bréchignac as the incoming President and I encourage all of our Members to support her in leading ICSU through the coming triennium.

A strategic vision

2007 marked the second year of implementing the ICSU Strategic Plan 2006–2011; the collective strategic vision of the thousands of scientists represented by ICSU’s Members. The main thrust of the plan is to utilize ICSU’s expertise and unique capabilities to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. Many significant achievements towards this objective have already been made, including re-structuring and re-focusing of existing activities as well as the development of several major new initiatives. Central to realizing the strategic vision is the activities of the Committee on Scientific Planning and Review (CSPR), which works with the Executive Board to help bring major new scientific initiatives to fruition. In addition to new initiatives, the Committee also plays an important role in reviewing existing programmes. Currently, four programmes are undergoing reviews, which will provide recommendations on the future of the programmes and help guide scientific research. CSPR will continue to play a leading role throughout the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

Changing world, emerging science

We live in a world that is changing rapidly—with increasing urbanization, global environmental change and emerging issues of human health. ICSU is addressing many of the scientific issues arising from this changing landscape through the development of major new international research programmes in human health, hazards and disasters, and ecosystem services and human well-being.

Commitment to developing countries

The most significant structural change that has taken place within ICSU in recent years is the establishment of the Regional Offices: Africa in 2005, Asia and the Pacific in 2006 and Latin America and the Caribbean in April this year. They support scientific networks in their regions and signal an important increase in the presence and commitment of ICSU to serve developing countries. Through the activities of the Regional Offices the number of National Members has increased, most notably in Africa. In 2008, we look forward to the 29th ICSU General Assembly in Maputo, Mozambique; this is the first time an ICSU General Assembly will be held in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Regional Offices play a key role in strengthening science within the context of regional priorities. As part of this process, they are developing Science Plans based on regional priorities, identified following extensive consultation. Continued involvement by those most familiar with the needs of their own communities will be essential in order to translate the plans into successful actions—a balance between maximum impact and realistic outcomes.

Working together and developing partnerships

To become a truly global organization ICSU must engage and involve partners in all countries and regions of the world. ICSU continues to work in close cooperation with other international organizations, including relevant parts of the UN system, and the Regional Offices have continued to expand collaborations with regional partners. This cooperation allows the sharing of knowledge and combining of resources, to create new opportunities and reinforces ICSU’s commitment to strengthen international science for the benefit of society.

Goverdhan Mehta

ICSU President 2005-2008
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