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A major five-day Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development in the days just prior to the Rio+20 conference in Rio de Janeiro.

Linking science and policy at Rio+20...

The Forum is organised by ICSU, in partnership with UNESCO, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.

The Forum aims to provide a platform for the science, technology and innovation (STI) community to highlight key messages within the Rio+20 context, and to enter into dialogue with policy-makers and other stakeholders.

Overall objectives:

  • To highlight the urgent need for greater action on sustainable development and poverty alleviation, and to explore strategies and best practices for addressing these issues.
  • To highlight the importance of interdisciplinary research, collaboration and dialogue across the natural science, social science and engineering communities, for addressing the interrelated economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.
  • To explore modalities for dialogue and collaboration between the STI community and policy-makers.
  • To provide a platform for young people to discuss sustainable development issues, and to inspire young people and teachers about STI for sustainable development.
  • To generate dialogue between the STI community and civil society stakeholders, including business and industry, indigenous peoples and farmers.
  • To generate further momentum for the development of a new contract between science and society, including policy-makers and other stakeholder groups.
  • To share global, regional and local perspectives.

Target audience:

  • Government delegates and high-level policy makers.
  • Representatives of civil society (Major Groups), including business and industry, indigenous peoples and farmers.
  • Children, youth and teachers.
  • Natural scientists, social scientists and engineers.


New scientific evidence, including work on ‘planetary boundaries’, reaffirms that humanity has reached a point in history at which a prerequisite for human development – the functioning of the Earth system as we know it – is at risk. Current economic patterns are responsible for many of the interlinked and growing social, environmental and economic crises facing the planet. It is urgent that we move onto a sustainable path of development.

A strong interdisciplinary science-base will be of fundamental importance to integrated decision-making for sustainable development at all levels. All disciplines across the sciences and engineering have a crucial role to play, by developing systems of knowledge, defining targets, implementing solutions and monitoring progress.

We also need a new way of doing science. In order for STI to fully assume its potential for sustainable development, a new contract needs to be developed between science and society, in which collaboration and communication between the STI community and policy and civil society are greatly enhanced. The STI community must collaborate closely with governments and civil society in order to produce the knowledge, solutions and technologies that are needed to face sustainable development challenges in an era of rapid global environmental and social change.

  • At Rio+20 governments should recognise, analyse and enhance the crucial relationship between policy-making and science, technology and innovation.
  • Rio+20 should be a fundamental milestone in the development of a new contract between science and society.

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