In an unprecedented plea to the UN General Assembly, a coalition of leaders representing international scientific, engineering and medical organisations today called on heads of state to strengthen worldwide capacities in science, technology and innovation.
The group of organisations, which includes the International Council for Science (ICSU), issued a statement calling for improved investments in science and technology to allow humanity to achieve the UN's previously agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
These objectives, accepted in September 2000 by 189 nations, aim to reduce global poverty and the related problems of illiteracy, hunger, discrimination against women, unsafe drinking water and degraded environments and ecosystems by 2015.
Leaders of the international organisations committed themselves to working with appropriate partners to help strengthen global science and technology capacities for achieving the MDGs.
The group stated that "sustained progress in reducing poverty and related problems require strengthened institutions for science, technology and innovation throughout the world, including in each developing nation".
Professor Thomas Rosswall, executive director of the ICSU, said: "We are committed to helping implement the challenges to the international scientific community in line with pledges to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
"Science is essential for sound decision making as well as for technological development and national innovation systems.
"The MDGs can be met if international science is strengthened for the benefit of society. Science and technology are necessary, but not sufficient, prerequisites for achieving the MDGs."
The signatories of the statement are:
- Bruce Alberts and Lu Yongxiang, co-chairs of the InterAcademy Council
- Jane Lubchenco, president of the International Council for Science
- Yves Quéré and Chen Zhu, co-chairs of the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues
- David Challoner and Guy de Thé, co-chairs of the InterAcademy Medical Panel
- John Zillman, president of the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
- Lee Yee-Cheong, president of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations
- C.N.R. Rao, president of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World
- Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN Millennium Project
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