ICSU Annual Report 2010 now available
History may choose to judge this year as one of particular importance for ICSU and in particular the evolution of Earth system research. It was during these last twelve months that the ICSU-ISSC Visioning process took hold and, in parallel with what has become to known as the Belmont Challenge, began to define the course and shape of international environmental sciences for the future decades. This process has gathered speed such that ICSU, ISSC, research funding agencies and the operational service providers have come together – for the first time to my knowledge – to co-design a major science initiative. This is both exciting and challenging, yet absolutely necessary if we are to meet the pressing needs for new knowledge and technologies that can help us achieve global sustainability. It was in June 2010 that a major meeting was convened in Paris to identify the Grand Challenges that had been identified by the scientific community through the Visioning exercise. It was concluded there that ‘business as usual is not an option’; a step change is needed to promote in a very major way the interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research that is required to meet the Grand Challenges.
In these last years ICSU has sought to increase the involvement and participation of the social science communities in the work of its major interdisciplinary programmes and initiatives. We can look back with a certain amount of satisfaction on the results achieved. Our collaboration with the International Social Science Council (ISSC) has steadily increased, and I am pleased to acknowledge the close cooperation that our two organizations are enjoying around new important initiatives such as the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme. As ICSU takes further its commitment to interdisciplinary research on issues relating to sustainable development, I believe we must extend this cooperation into the areas of engineering and technology. New partnerships need to be forged, and the familiar disciplinary silos must be broken down once and for all in the face of challenges and opportunities presented. I remain confident that ICSU can respond to the challenge.