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Annual Report 2015

Message from the President

2015 was a watershed year as the world’s governments agreed three landmark frameworks on climate change, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development. It is with great pride that I reflect back on the role that the International Council for Science (ICSU) played throughout the year, notably in convening scientists to contribute and engage around these historic processes. This is just one example of how the Council mobilizes the international scientific community to address some of today’s biggest global challenges. These challenges cannot be met without excellent, interdisciplinary research of the sort that emerges from our suite of international research programmes.

Starting with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) that was agreed in March, the ICSU-led scientific community secured prominent recognition for science to support the understanding of disaster risk and promote risk-informed decisions and risk-sensitive planning from local to global levels. ICSU will continue to play a role in the implementation phase of this framework, starting with a conference in early 2016 co-organized with UNISDR on a new
Science and Technology Partnership for disaster risk reduction.

The 2014 External Review of ICSU identified a number of challenges that ICSU has to face in the coming years. During 2015, the Executive Board, with the support of National Members and  Unions, agreed on a series of actions that specify how ICSU will respond to these challenges. In
an early step towards implementing this response, ICSU convened Science International, a new activity which, in December 2015, brought together the International Social Science Council (ISSC), The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and ICSU to agree on an international accord on Open Data in a Big Data World. The accord outlines guiding principles for the practice of open data, and the partner organizations will reach out in 2016 to solicit endorsements from their members and other influential science organizations.

At the first Science Forum South Africa, also in December 2015, ICSU was awarded the Science Diplomacy Award. The jury felt it appropriate to recognize ICSU’s work on science for policy,  especially within the context of ensuring that science is integrated into international policy  development.

In advance of COP21, ICSU was a co-organizer of the “Our Common Future under Climate Change” conference held in Paris in July 2015. The conference developed an outcome statement
which staked out the position of scientists ahead of the climate negotiations in December,  identifying climate change as a defining challenge of the 21st century. During COP21, an ICSU
co-organized press conference brought together more than 200 international journalists with leading climate scientists to explain the science behind the temperature target and the long-term goal. This gained extensive coverage in the international press.

In March 2015, we, the ICSU family, were delighted to bring Heide Hackmann in as our new Executive Director to bring strong leadership to the challenge of responding to the External Review. As President, I wish to thank all the ICSU Secretariat members, including those in our Regional Offices, for their outstanding contributions during 2015 and, with their support, I look ahead, very positively, to great accomplishments during 2016.

Gordon McBean, President

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