Secretary-General, at Technology Summit, Seeks Scientific Community’s Guidance, Climate-friendly Solutions in Pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Summit on Science and Technology Enablement for the Sustainable Development Goals, in New York today:

I am grateful to the New York Academy of Sciences for bringing us together to support the Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations attaches great importance to its partnership with the scientific community. You have been with us since both the United Nations and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) were founded in 1945.

I have worked to strengthen that bond throughout my tenure, including by establishing a Scientific Advisory Board. Science has transformative power, and we need those contributions more than ever.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our shared plan for the future – our manifesto for advancing human progress in harmony with our planet. A great many Governments are now making the 17 Sustainable Development Goals part of their national development planning. More businesses are incorporating sustainability into their operations and investments.

Today, I would like to offer 10 ways in which I hope the scientific community will be an even bigger part of this effort.

First, I ask you to truly embrace the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. Let us not be daunted by the ambition contained in these agreements. Scientists are quite at home with big goals and new ways of thinking. That is how they have helped to cure diseases and send men to the moon. And that is how we will fulfil our moral imperative to bring about a safer and more just world.

Second, we need science to help us learn what works, and what does not, from health to agriculture and across all the Goals. Moreover, we need you to help us to better understand the links among the Goals.

Third, we need science to continue providing the evidence to guide our response to climate change. The Paris Agreement has entered into force – a great diplomatic victory but also an important achievement for the scientists who spent decades warning about the threat.

Going forward, and in keeping with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists are already telling us we have to get on an emissions pathway that limits warming this century to well below 2C and as low as 1.5C. Science will thus have a major voice as we use the review mechanisms of the Paris Agreement to raise ambition. We also need your innovations and climate-friendly solutions to help further reduce the costs of renewable energy.

Fourth, we need your contributions for the Global Sustainable Development Report, which is to be issued every four years. National academies of science will have a critical role in mobilizing scientists around this report, which will be a vital instrument for consolidating and presenting scientific knowledge, influencing policy and accelerating our efforts.

Fifth, I encourage you to support the United Nations Technology Facilitation Mechanism, which aims to improve access to technology in many fields.

Sixth, scientists can help us address other inequalities, not just the technology gap. We are all aware of the need for more research into neglected tropical diseases, and for a green revolution in Africa. All countries deserve to benefit from the fruits of scientific endeavour.

Seventh, I call on you to help us to seize the remarkable potential of the data revolution. The United Nations has tried to keep pace, including through the Global Pulse initiative. Please join us in South Africa in January 2017 for the first-ever United Nations World Data Forum.

Eighth, we need you to do your part for women’s empowerment. I am pleased to note that there are more women than men on the UN Scientific Advisory Board. But, women still make up less than 30 per cent of the world’s researchers. What a waste of brain power.

Ninth, we should also do more to bring young people into the sciences. I commend the New York Academy of Science for its Global STEM Alliance for Scientific, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education. Let us take the fear out of science.

Tenth, and finally, at a time when extremist groups and even many politicians are striving to push people into camps of “us” and “them”, the scientific community can be an example of problem-solving across the lines that might otherwise divide.

The most vulnerable members of the human family depend on you to empower them to break out of the cycles of poverty. People everywhere are looking to you to help us build resilience in the face of climate change. Entrepreneurs and innovators depend on your ground-breaking research to bring sustainable solutions to the market. City planners and infrastructure developers are hungry for your help in building livable urban environments.

All of this will mean doing what you do best – producing valuable findings and academic outputs. But, even more than that, it will mean going the extra mile to help apply and communicate the science.

This is a time of turmoil and conflict. The number of people who require humanitarian assistance is the largest in United Nations history. More than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes – more than at any time since the Second World War.

Yet, I continue to believe that this is also an era of remarkable opportunity. Let us work together so that science can do its best for humankind. Thank you for your commitment to our shared goals.

Source: United Nations