Affiliated bodies

The Council is proud of the work that the ISC co-sponsored affiliate bodies achieve, with several working together to fill knowledge gaps for science and society. Their initiatives and programmes, alongside other international organizations, including agencies from the UN system, focus on areas of international research that are of interest to ISC Members. These collaborative programmes on specific themes provide a platform that convenes scientists across disciplines on international science initiatives and to offer policy advice. This transdisciplinary and collaborative approach allows issues to be considered from the broadest possible science perspectives, while minimizing overlap at the global scale.

ISC’s affiliated bodies range from thematic organizations to data and information initiatives and monitoring and observation programmes.

We highlight some of their major achievements and impacts from 2022 below.

Thematic Organizations

Committee on Space Research

In July 2022, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) held its first in-person (44th) Scientific Assembly since the pandemic. Held in Athens, the event gathered close to 3,000 participants. Capacity-building workshops also resumed in Morocco on space oceanography, and in Chile on planetary sciences data analysis. Both workshops were oversubscribed, showing the critical need for capacity building for early-career scientists. During 2022, the committee proudly launched its inclusiveness, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) policy after appointing an IDEA coordination officer and related panel. Finally, a new Committee on Industry Relations, grouping 18 aerospace companies world-wide, large and small, submitted its first strategic and development plan, aimed at identifying new sources of revenues for COSPAR and increase the synergies between science and space industries.

Global Research Programme on Inequality

In 2022, the Global Research Programme on Inequality (GRIP) carried out three collaborative research projects exploring dimensions of inequalities. The interdisciplinary inequities stream, the ‘Speculative Urban Futures’ project, focused on possible urban futures and inequalities, concentrating particularly on multispecies relations in cities and new forms of urban agency in relation to migration. From the political inequalities stream, the ‘Protests and New Forms of Citizenship’ project addressed the recent and ongoing protests and revolutionary movements that challenge political inequalities, and examined the ways citizenship is being re-negotiated in politically volatile contexts. In the experimental ‘Imaging Inequality’ project, GRIP collaborated with visual artists to represent different dimensions of inequality in specific contexts. GRIP also continued to examine these inequalities in all forms and dimensions through an ongoing mini-series, the podcast ‘Unequal Worlds’, and contributions at numerous academic events.

Future Earth

One of the main achievements for Future Earth in 2022 was the launch of 10 New Insights in Climate Science 2022, at COP27 alongside the UNFCCC Executive Secretary. These insights were the result of a collaboration with the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), also co-sponsored by the ISC and the Earth League.

Future Earth signed a statement from more than 3,000 biodiversity scientists from 125 countries calling on member state signatories to the UN Biodiversity Conference not to abandon the 2030 deadline for the COP15 negotiations.

Four of Future Earth’s Asian hubs organized the Asia Spotlight Event at the Sustainability Research & Innovation Congress in Pretoria, South Africa, for global sustainability experts from more than 100 countries. Additional high-level representation included participation in the UN Stockholm +50’s letter to the world, alongside the ISC and the Stockholm Environment Institute. Finally, the Future Earth collaboration with the ISC on the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability programme led to the launch of the ‘Action Plan for a Sustainable Planet in the Digital Age’ report, meant to inform the setting of priorities for the Global Digital Compact outlined in the UN Secretary-General’s report, ‘Our Common Agenda.’

The International Network for Governmental Science Advice

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted extensive reflection on science advice. In 2022, INGSA’s main achievements have been in continuing to disseminate across its regional network of chapters the skills, capacities and best practices arising from the pandemic. These chapters, in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, are increasingly recognized in their regions and lead the local development of mechanisms for feeding evidence into policy.

This work has prompted high-profile collaborations with congresses in Latin America, science ministers and academies in Southeast Asia, and a project with the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on zoonotic spillover in Asia, among others. The African chapter participated in the ISC’s Global Knowledge Dialogue held in conjunction with the World Science Forum in December 2022, providing additional inputs to the assembled delegates and the ISC Governing Board on the future of a voice for global science in Africa.

INGSA’s focus continued to raise the issue of context-sensitive, yet globally connected, capacity of science advice in all parts of the world, advancing its vision that the most robust knowledge should be provided to the right people at the right time, informing policies that benefit citizens and the common good.

Integrated Research on Disaster Risk

2022 has been an important year of transition for Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR). A collaborative global research framework involving the ISC, the UNDRR and the IRDR has been promoted actively through IRDR-supported conferences. The most notable events include: the 7th Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction – the main global forum to assess and discuss progress on the implementation of the Sendai Framework; the 2022 Asia Pacific Science and Technology Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction, the International Conference on the Multi-hazard Early Warning Systems and the 2nd Global Meeting of the Regional Science and Technology Advisory Groups. The IRDR’s new concept and strategy for a ten-year Phase II have been established through in-depth consultation between the co-sponsors, donor and host. This second phase of the IRDR is forecast to end in 2031, following the span of the Sendai Framework and other related UN 2030 agreements.

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research

In May 2022, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) launched the ‘Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment’ report during the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Berlin. The report demonstrates that the Antarctic ice sheets are melting, the continent’s climate is changing, and the Southern Ocean is warming, becoming more acidic and losing oxygen.

‘As part of the global ecosystem, human survival and societal prosperity are directly connected to the global climate. Now that we are exposed to rapid climate change, efforts to find the causes, predictions and mitigation measures of the change become the most urgent tasks facing humans. Climate change and its impact on ecosystem are the fastest and most remarkable in the Arctic, Antarctic and the Southern Ocean, and the change is closely interacting with the Earth’s climate system. Therefore, efforts to protect polar ecosystems and provide science-based evidence and knowledge to the public through research on polar changes are highly important and valuable.’

Yeadong Kim, SCAR President

Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research

The Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) continued to shape modern oceanography by planning and coordinating large-scale ocean research projects and establishing working groups involving thousands of scientists from all continents. SCOR’s large research projects provided knowledge on critical issues affecting the health of the ocean including, marine biogeochemical cycles of trace elements, ocean sustainability in the context of global change, biogeochemical-physical interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, and ocean soundscapes and the effects of sound on marine organisms. In addition to these four thematic programmes, SCOR also launched and coordinated a regional programme on the Indian Ocean processes and how they affect the earth system and human population in the region.

SCOR also supported infrastructural activities related to ocean carbon and ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, the effects of multi stressors on the marine biota, the coordination of observations in the Southern Ocean, and the relationships between temperature and salinity of seawater.

By the end of 2022, there were around 20 active SCOR international working groups developing and standardizing novel experimental designs, tools and databases, to understand a variety of physical, chemical, biogeochemical and biological processes associated with ocean research. These projects and working groups have produced thousands of scientific papers, of which the SCOR community directly published almost 1,000. SCOR also promotes and supports networking and training activities across all ocean science disciplines.

Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics

In 2022, the Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP) strongly promoted scientific and capacity-building activities gathering participants from more than 70 countries to build connections and promote collaboration. Amongst these activities, SCOSTEP provided support enabling 20 scholars to visit host universities and institutions, along with conducting five international schools and providing six online lectures.

Additionally, SCOSTEP organized five international conferences focused on the Predictability of the variable Solar-Terrestrial Coupling project, as well as an active online seminar series and five awards for database development to improve information access. Finally, a scientific comic book series has been translated into more than a dozen languages and is available on the SCOSTEP website.

Urban Health and Wellbeing Programme

The Urban Health and Wellbeing Programme (UHWB), a multidisciplinary science programme hosted by the Institute of Urban Environment’s Chinese Academy of Sciences, 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.

In 2022, the UHWB continued to explore new approaches to studying the health of urban populations. The programme also released a series of policy briefs, published in various scientific journals, offering valuable recommendations to support decision-makers. Other activities included the release of a series of podcasts showcasing UHWB-associated experts from international organizations, urban planning and governance thought leaders and urban health scientists sharing their knowledge, insights and outlook on collaborating and implementing an inter- and trans-disciplinary science agenda for cities’, peoples’ and planetary health.

During July, the UHWB launched its inaugural summer school, from 25 to 30 July, co-organized by the Institute for Ecological Civilization, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and ANSO – the Alliance of International Science Organizations. The summer school’s theme asked students to connect the two concepts of urban health and ecological civilization to address the question on ‘which role can urban and rural civilizations alike play in safeguarding the health of people, cities and the environment?’

The UHWB also said goodbye to long-time director, Franz W. Gatzweiler, who took on a new role at the United Nations University Institute in Macau. Yupeng Liu from the Institute of Urban Environment was appointed as an Interim Director for the programme until May 2024.

World Climate Research Programme

The work of the WCRP’s Core Projects and Lighthouse Activities resulted in several significant outputs and publications in 2022. The Lighthouse Activities, launched in 2021 and designed to provide ambitious and transdisciplinary results that rapidly advance cutting-edge science and technologies, included new high-end estimates of sea-level rise projections in 2100 and 2300.

The WCRP also contributed to the launch of 10 New Insights in Climate Science 2022 (see previous section on Future Earth). And three new WCRP Task Teams were set up to initialize new foci on climate intervention, on linking carbon, energy and water cycles, and on an international Global Precipitation Experiment.

Additionally, significant progress was made towards WCRP’s focus on bridging science and society. The Regional Information for Society Core Project developed its first science plan, and the ‘My Climate Risk’ Lighthouse Activity established eight regional hubs, ensuring a ‘bottom-up’ approach to regional climate risk. Training and support of early-career scientists continued to be a priority, and preparations for the WCRP Open Science Conference, to take place in Rwanda in 2023, was a major focus of the year.

Data and Information

Committee on Data

In June 2022, the Committee on Data (CODATA) coordinated the launch of the WorldFAIR project, funded by the European Commission. Coordinated by CODATA, with the Research Data Alliance association as a major partner, the WorldFAIR project concentrated its efforts on a set of eleven case studies to advance implementation of the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) data principles, in particular those for interoperability. The goal is to develop a set of recommendations and a framework for FAIR assessment in a set of disciplines, or cross-disciplinary research areas. Each case study will develop an interoperability framework, recommendations and/or a FAIR implementation from the physical, social, agricultural and environmental sciences and the cultural heritage sector.

Led by CODATA, a synthesis has been supporting each case study, understanding their requirements through the completion of FAIR implementation profiles. In turn, these insights will be incorporated into the development of a Cross-Domain Interoperability Framework and more domain-sensitive recommendations for FAIR assessment and benchmarks. Building on work carried out since 2017, WorldFAIR is now a central contribution to the ISC’s Action Plan 2022–2024 in the areas of ‘Making Data Work for Global Grand Challenges’ and ‘Open Science’.

Scientific Committee On Frequency Allocations For Radio Astronomy And Space Science

In 2022, the Scientific Committee on Frequency Allocations for Radio Astronomy and Space Science (IUCAF) prepared for the March 2023 International Telecommunications Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) Conference Preparatory Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, and the November–December 2023 ITU-R Radio Assembly and World Radiocommunication Conference meetings in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where the ITU-R Radio Regulations will be revised. IUCAF continued to work with the ITU-R to incorporate protection of radio astronomy in the treaty text of the Radio Regulations. In all, IUCAF submitted 16 documents to ITU-R working parties.

World Data System International Technology Office

In 2022, the World Data System International Technology Office (WDS-ITO) launched the POLDER Federated Search (PFS) tool. This tool was created to unify and simplify data discovery for polar scientists. This federated catalogue is characterized by harmonizing ‘dialects’ of metadata standards from different organizations, and bridges the gap between data holdings in the Arctic and Antarctic polar research communities. The PFS site was developed by the WDS-ITO in support of the Polar Data Discovery Enhancement Research working group of the Arctic Data Committee, the Standing Committee on Antarctic Data Management (SCADM), and Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS). SCADM and SOOS are both a part of SCAR. The WDS-ITO is currently working with UNESCO’s International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange Office to allow the PFS back-end database to accept direct semantic queries from Ocean InfoHub. A full list of repositories that contribute data to the portal can be viewed online, and an article describing the portal is under review by the Polar Data Journal.

Monitoring and Observations

Global Climate Observing System

In 2022, the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) published its implementation plan, which was presented at COP27. During this critical Conference of Parties, the GCOS also advocated for a high-level statement on systematic observations in the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan (Chapter VII). The plan contained 31 recommendations for action, with an exhaustive set of concrete activities, major implementers bodies and methods to assess progress. Together with the updated list of requirements for essential climate variables, the plan will encourage improvements to the global climate observing system.

Global Ocean Observing System

In 2022, the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) made clear advances, taking advantage of several big opportunities to advocate for ocean observing in global conversations. One of the most influential events was Earth Information Day – a UNFCCC-organized event at COP27, which was attended by hundreds of negotiators and featured clear messages from UNESCO and other agencies on the need to systematically monitor the climate. For the first time, the ocean was clearly identified as a gap in the climate conversation, supported by GOOS’s work.

Ocean observing was also the topic of the DOALOS-led Informal Consultation Process on Ocean Issues, held in June. GOOS and partner agencies once again conveyed a strong message, highlighting the importance of ocean observations to nations’ economies, sustainable development, ability to adapt to climate change, and resilience of coastal communities.

Finally, significant progress was made in developing the Essential Ocean Variables and Best Practices, advancing the three GOOS Ocean Decade programmes and creating a space for potentially transformative collaborations with the private sector through a series of Dialogues with Industry.


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