UNESCO's scientific programmes address sustainable development, the overarching challenge of the 21st century. In scientific disciplines such as oceanography and hydrology, transboundary cooperation is indispensable. UNESCO provides a forum to its 193 member states for such scientific cooperation.
How can we use scarce water resources so as to ensure their availability in the long term? How can we use the land without exhausting the soil? How can we establish global standards in bioethics? How can we deal with international migration in a manner that respects human rights? How can we create and sustain excellent research centres in Africa? How can we involve more women in research? UNESCO helps its member states in finding reliable answers to such questions.
In Germany, UNESCO’s science programmes are implemented by a number of partners. For example, there are four national committees for specialized scientific programmes. The German Commission for UNESCO (DUK) acts as a mediator among its partners. For example, since 2007 DUK supports the German MAB committee in its efforts to promote UNESCO biosphere reserves in Germany and abroad. DUK acts on its own in implementing several elements of UNESCO’s science programmes, e.g. in bioethics or in human rights.