Science for sustainable development is the focus of Chapter
35 of Agenda 21. It calls for: a) strengthening the scientific
basis for sustainable management; b) enhancing scientific understanding;
c) improving long-term scientific assessment; and d) building up
scientific capacity and capability.
Decisions relating to science have subsequently been taken by the
Commission on Sustainable Development at its third
(1997) and sixth
(1998) sessions, by the United Nations General Assembly at its Special
Session to review the implementation of Agenda 21 (1997), and the
World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002).
The special session of the General Assembly held in June 1997 to
review progress five years after UNCED stressed the need for
authoritative scientific evidence for assessing environmental conditions
and changes, which would facilitate international consensus-building.
Scientific cooperation was to be promoted across disciplines for that
purpose, and building scientific and technological capacity in
developing countries was extremely important in that regard.
The Plan of
Implementation adopted by WSSD underlined the importance of
science-based decision-making, inter alia, by: integrating scientists'
advice into decision-making bodies; partnerships between scientific,
public and private institutions; improved collaboration between natural
and social scientists, and establishing regular channels for requesting
and receiving advice between scientists and policy makers; making
greater use of integrated scientific assessments, risk assessments and
interdisciplinary and intersectoral approaches; increasing the
beneficial use of local and indigenous knowledge. Strengthening and
creating centers for sustainable development in developing countries
were encouraged, as well as networking with and between centers of
scientific excellence and between science and education for sustainable
development. Tools for science-based decision-making and sharing of
knowledge and experiences to be promoted include: information and
communication technologies, ground-based observations, satellite
technologies, national statistical services capable of providing sound
data, assessment models, accurate databases and integrated information
systems. The Plan also urged support for publicly funded research and
development entities to engage in strategic alliances for the purpose of
enhancing research and development.