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Annual Report 2011

Message from the President

ICSU had a busy year in 2011 as it transitioned to a new leadership at the 30th General Assembly in Rome and looked ahead to the once-in-a-decade UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20. It was a year in which ICSU scaled up its efforts to make science a force for global sustainability.

Following a series of reviews and consultations, the planning for a major new initiative, Future Earth: Research for Global Sustainability, began in earnest. To this end, an important new Alliance was formed with the International Social Science Council, the Belmont Group of research funding agencies, and various UN bodies. A transition team of international experts from different disciplines and sectors was charged with developing a science framework and structure that would build on, integrate and expand the activities of the existing global environmental change programmes. This major global initiative promises to become the primary engine of research and knowledge for sustainability solutions.

At the same time, ICSU was in the thick of preparations for Rio+20, as the representative of the global science and technology community. Five ICSU-UNESCO Regional Science and Technology Workshops gathered the views of hundreds of scientists from around the world, which ICSU then fed into the official Rio+20 preparatory process. Many other avenues were exploited to inject the voice of science into the global sustainable development debate. Plans were made for the Planet Under Pressure conference scheduled for London in March 2012, and the Forum for Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 to provide more scientific input into the Rio+20 process.

Ultimately, these efforts were united by the same vision: that scientific knowledge must play a central role in the endeavour to secure a sustainable future for humanity. Scientific evidence continues to paint a worrying picture of dangerous climate change, biodiversity decline and ecosystem degradation, alongside persistent poverty, hunger and other challenges. As one of the premier global scientific organizations in the world, ICSU has both the capacity and the responsibility to make sure that ever-better scientific knowledge and innovations shape concrete actions and solutions.

Yuan Tseh Lee

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