World Engineering Day – science and engineering are key partners in building a sustainable future

As we celebrate World Engineering Day, the ISC and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) - as co-leads for the UN Science and Technological Major Group - are encouraging the UN's Economic and Social Council to promote the engagement of scientific and engineering expert communities in ECOSOC processes.

The ISC is today joining its colleagues, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, in recognizing the opportunities and achievements of science, technology and engineering in our modern world. World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, celebrated each year on 4 March, was proclaimed by UNESCO at its 40th General Conference in 2019. 

Engineering plays a key role in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it utilizes the principles of science and mathematics to develop practical applications in food, water, energy, environment, sustainable cities, natural disaster resilience and other areas which are crucial to all mankind. It is also crucial to the development of new technologies enabling the 4th Industrial Revolution such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, robotics or quantum computing, etc. Engineering is at the heart of our modern world and will shape the future, as has been the case for millennia. 

In recognizing the important partnership between science and engineering, the ISC is a co-organizing partner with the WFEO of the Scientific and Technological Community Major Group (STC MG) at the United Nations. In this role, we secure a mandate for science and technology at the UN and work to  strengthen the scientific basis of decision-making and governance of sustainable development, as well as the science-policy interface essential to advance progress on the SDGs. 

Last year, the UN General Assembly  launched the review of ECOSOC and the High Level Political Forum, which allowed the STC MG to submit several inputs calling on ECOSOC to be ambitious in its reforms and putting forward a set of proposals aimed at a strengthened global institutional framework. This is essential if we are to realize the aspirations the Sustainable Development Goals while recovering from the multiple crises stemming from the pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has illustrated the need for nimble and effective governance structures that foster collaboration at different levels and the importance of robust data and scientific evidence to inform decision-making on ways to respond, recover, prevent and prepare for such events. It is a very real test of our ability to address the fundamental interdependencies between development and planetary health, and craft new ways of acting together to address complex global challenges.  

To strengthen the role of ECOSOC and the HLPF in mobilizing global cooperation, solidarity and action, as well as their contributions to the 2030 Agenda, both must be underpinned by a strong and effective science-policy-society interface.

Amongst the proposals included in our written inputs, converting the multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation (STI Forum) into a key stage in the HLPF preparatory processes, and providing scientists and experts (including from the GSDR Independent Group of Scientists) a more prominent and well-resourced function in the preparatory processes to distil and synthesize available knowledge, engage with member states and be available to advise them, and help facilitate discussions during the HLPF, are some concrete examples in this regard. 

Science and engineering are key partners in supporting the implementation of the Agenda 2030 by providing transformative knowledge and solutions that can accelerate action and progress, as well as by identifying, defining and operationalizing transformative and attainable pathways to a sustainable future, and the STC MG is one way that raises the voices of scientists and engineers in the UN system. 

Find out more on World Engineering Day. ISC Member, CAST, has partnered with UNESCO and WFEO to bring success to the international day.

You can join the World Engineering Day online celebrations and download the Engineering for A Healthy Planet report.

Photo by Vitor Pinto on Unsplash

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