Scientists identify Grand Challenges to address global sustainability

Saturday, November 13, 2010

WASHINGTON - Five Grand Challenges that, if addressed in the next decade, will deliver knowledge to enable sustainable development, poverty eradication, and environmental protection in the face of global change have been identified by the international scientific community.

The Grand Challenges for Earth system science are the result of broad consultation as part of a visioning process spearheaded by the International Council for Science (ICSU) in cooperation with the International Social Science Council (ISSC).

The consultation highlighted the need for research that integrates our understanding of the functioning of the Earth system with global environmental change and socio-economic development.

The five Grand Challenges are: 1. Forecasting-Improve the usefulness of forecasts of future environmental conditions and their consequences for people. 2. Observing-Develop, enhance and integrate the observation systems needed to manage global and regional environmental change. 3. Confining-Determine how to anticipate, recognize, avoid and manage disruptive global environmental change. 4. Responding-Determine what institutional, economic and behavioural changes can enable effective steps toward global sustainability. 5. Innovating-Encourage innovation (coupled with sound mechanisms for evaluation) in developing technological, policy and social responses to achieve global sustainability.

“The challenges are a consensus list of the highest priorities for Earth system research and provide an overarching research framework. If we, the scientific community, successfully address these in the next decade, we will remove critical barriers impeding progress toward sustainable development,” said Walt Reid, who chaired the Task Team overseeing the first step of the visioning process.

“Addressing these challenges will require new research capacity, especially the involvement of young scientists and scientists from developing countries, and a balanced mix of disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that actively involves stakeholders and decision makers,” Reid added.

Now that the research framework has been identified the next step has begun: determining the organizational structure required to implement this framework. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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