ICSU President gives statement at Rio+20

Professor Yuan Tseh Lee represented the Scientific and Technological Major Group at the opening of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development with the following statement.

“I am honored to address you on behalf of the global scientific and technological community.

We meet at a time of unprecedented challenges. Science has sounded the alarm that humanity is putting enormous pressure on our planet. We have entered the Anthropocene, where human activity dominates the planet. Dangerous climate change, biodiversity loss, and widespread pollution present grave threats to our survival.

We, the science, engineering and technology communities urge leaders to act now.  Failure to do so increases the risk of abrupt and irreversible changes to the biosphere that will undermine the sustainability of life on earth.

Research shows that responding to these challenges requires fundamental transformations, both personal and systemic, to protect our planet, eradicate poverty and hunger, address inequality and conflict, and safeguard human rights and justice.

Science, engineering and technology have helped drive the development of human societies for centuries. Our transformation to sustainability must be supported by the best knowledge, innovation and feasibility analyses that science and engineering have to offer. Integrated research will deliver the knowledge society needs, and a strong science-policy interface must support decision-making.

We therefore call for Rio+20 to forge a new contract between science and society. The international science and engineering community is ready to step up to realize the Future We Want.

There is no time to waste. We must act now, together.”


ICSU is co-organising partner for the ‘Scientific and Technological Community’ Major Group, together with the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO). This is one of nine ‘Major Groups’ (non-governmental stakeholder groups) which will participate alongside governments in the Rio+20 conference, and in all stages of the preparatory process for the conference.

ICSU therefore has a key role to play in Rio+20, as it is jointly responsible for representing the knowledge, needs and concerns of the scientific and technological community. This includes the full range of scientific disciplines, including the natural, social, health and engineering sciences, and the humanities.

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