Launching scientific advisory board, Ban urges bridging gap between science, policy

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) holds joint press conference with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany in Berlin. UN Photo/Mark Garten

30 January 2014 – The United Nations must use science and technology to strengthen its policy-making on sustainable development, reducing inequality and eradicating extreme poverty, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said launching his advisory board of scientists.

“For too long we have sought to burn and consume our way to prosperity. That model is unsustainable,” Mr. Ban said in remarks at the inaugural meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board in Berlin.

Composed of 26 eminent scientists in varied natural, social and human disciplines, the Board is meant to strengthen ties between the UN and the global scientific community so that science can be more effectively integrated in policy-making processes.

“We have entered a new era, which has been given the name 'Anthropocene,'” he said, referring to a newly coined term for the current geologic epoch defined by humans' impact on the planet.

“We need science to understand our environment, to protect it and use it wisely,” he noted, adding that science is also needed to tackle hunger and food security, growing inequalities, disaster prevention, urbanization, sanitation and sustainable energy for all.

The launch of the Board, whose Secretariat is within the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), comes as Mr. Ban is pushing to catalyse action and strengthen political will towards a global legal climate agreement by the end of 2015.

Ahead of those discussions, Mr. Ban will host a climate summit on 23 September at UN Headquarters in New York for global leaders from Government, business, finance, and civil society.

Environmental sustainability is one of the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The international community is currently in the 700 day countdown to the deadline for achieving those targets and amidst defining a post-2015 development agenda.

While in Germany, Mr. Ban will address the 50th Munich Security Conference where he will stress that global security ultimately depends on sustainable development.

Earlier today, he met with Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, Economic and Cooperation Development Minister Gerd Müller, and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

In a press conference alongside Mr. Steinmeier, the Secretary-General highlighted Germany's role in the peaceful settlement of disputes, peacebuilding and disarmament, enhancing respect for human rights, and support for international development efforts.

He is also due to meet with Federal President Joachim Gauck and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He will travel to Bonn tomorrow to meet with UN staff members and local authorities.

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