World Science Day

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This blog post was written by Maja Björklund, Intern at RWI

Today, the 10th of November marks the United Nations World Science Day for Peace and Development. World Science Day was first proclaimed in 2001 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). It emphasises the importance of science in society and was created to strengthen public’s awareness of the important role of science in our everyday lives. Another key dimension is to underline the importance of keeping citizens and individuals informed of the different developments in society.

This year, the theme of World Science Day is “Basic Science for Sustainable Development”[1]. Basic or fundamental science is defined by the UN as the science and research which pave the way to the discoveries and technologies that shape and reshape our world[2], basic research is thereby driven by curiosity and may even sometimes be accidental.

One of the world’s most obvious links between basic science and societal change is the transistor.  When the first transistor radio came on the market in the 1950s, scientists had spent nearly 50 years of basic research in public laboratories developing it[3]. Since then, the miniaturisation of integrated circuits has made it possible to manufacture ever-smaller mechanical, electronic and optical devices: today’s smartphones use millions of miniscule transistors to perform complex processes.

Basic science is also vital for the development and advances in medicine, industry, agriculture, water resources, energy planning, environment, communications, and culture all of which contribute to increasing people’s general standard of living.

In 2021, UNESCO highlighted that the world needs more basic science to be able to reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals[4]. Basic Science is vital for both developed and developing, countries to raise the people’s general standard of living. UNESCO is therefore also encouraging countries to share their science in solidarity with the international community. Many countries around the world have committed to devoting one per cent of their GDP to finance the development of basic science. This may be achieved by using contributions from both the private as well as the public sectors.

Further efforts have been made by UNESCO to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2021 it adopted a Recommendation on Open Science. The Recommendation confirmed the importance of open science as a tool to improve the quality and accessibility of scientific processes[5]. It also aims to reduce the gaps between and within countries in the domains of science, technology, and innovations to enable the fulfilment of the human right of access to science. Member States of UNESCO are encouraged to prioritise seven emphasised areas of action. Notably, they are encouraged to promote both a ‘ common understanding of open science, associated benefits and challenges, as well as diverse paths to open science’ and ‘innovative approaches for open science at different stages of the scientific process’.

The main goal of the World Science Day remains to strengthen the public awareness of science for peaceful and sustainable societies and to fulfil people’s human right to access to science.

[1] World Science Day for Peace and Development | United Nations

[2] International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development | UNESCO

[3] How do basic sciences contribute to sustainable development? | UNESCO

[4] World Science Day for Peace and Development | United Nations

[5] Implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science | UNESCO

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