3. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

While the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly dominated discussions about science for policy in 2020, with one decade left to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda, the ISC continued to support the production of scientific knowledge for advancing sustainable development.

solar panels Brazil

In an editorial published in April 2020, ISC President Daya Reddy and ISC Patron Mary Robinson argued that governments and societies worldwide had shown they were capable of acting swiftly to advance global public good in the face of a crisis, and must now tackle climate change with the same resolve.

‘In 2020, the world is at a social tipping point. Scientists and civil society must jointly raise their voices and make every effort to ensure that we emerge on the right side of it. Young people have urged political leaders to listen to the scientists. And, as in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scientific community stands ready to work side by side with governments and businesses to put humanity on a sustainable climate path while managing the development trade-offs responsibly.’

Mary Robinson and Daya Reddy, writing in Project Syndicate.

This message was amplified by the scientific community’s position paper for the 2020 High-Level Political Forum, which argued that the COVID-19 crisis must become the great accelerator of transformations towards a more sustainable, equitable and healthy world. Such transformations require countries and regions to design and implement integrated, context-sensitive and attainable pathways to change.

Five years on from the Paris Agreement, in December 2020, the ISC launched Transform21, a new series of blogs to explore climate knowledge and action through a pivotal year for action on sustainable development. In early 2021, through an agreement with the UK COP26 organizing team, the blog series became part of a global science portal to share knowledge relevant to the upcoming COP26 negotiations.

Explore the global science portal at:


In this section:

Rethinking Human Development

Thirty years since the publication of the first Human Development Report, as humanity strives towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at the same time as dealing with a global pandemic, what does human development mean today?

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Flooding in Uganda 2020

Hazards Definition and Classification Review

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 (‘the Sendai Framework’) was one of three landmark agreements adopted by the United Nations in 2015, alongside the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

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Landslip Nepal

The Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme

At the start of the new decade, the IRDR programme created a comprehensive summary of its work as a global, multidisciplinary programme during its ten years of operation.

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Transformations to Sustainability (T2S)

The Transformations to Sustainability programme continued to advance knowledge on the social dimensions of environmental change and sustainability.

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Greenland iceberg

World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)

The mission of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) is to facilitate analysis and prediction of Earth’s climate system variability and change for use in an increasing range of practical applications of direct relevance, benefit and value to society.

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LIRA meeting Ethiopia

Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa (LIRA 2030)

The LIRA 2030 programme seeks to increase the production of high quality, integrated (inter- and transdisciplinary), solutions-oriented research on global sustainability by early-career scientists in Africa.

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Pandemic city

Urban Health and Wellbeing Programme

The Urban Health and Wellbeing Programme (UHWB), a multidisciplinary science programme hosted by the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IUE-CAS), has developed a systems approach for improving health and wellbeing in cities and engaging with urban communities in the process of creating and transferring knowledge.

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Lake Tengiz

Future Earth

Future Earth’s mission is to accelerate transformations to global sustainability through research and innovation, and much of the programme’s work focuses on understanding, mitigating and responding to the complex systemic challenges facing society.

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Global Forum of Funders

Following the 2019 launch of the ‘Decade of Global Sustainability Science Action’ at the inaugural Global Forum of Funders, in 2020 the ISC released a global call to mobilize scientists in all fields and all disciplines to identify priorities for game-changing action in two related domains: science for sustainability transformations and transformations of science systems.

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Image: IMF Photo/Raphael Alves.

Next up: Rethinking Human Development 


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