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UN Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is a new body created by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It is composed of 26 internationally leading scientists. The SAB is tasked with providing advice to the UN Secretary-General and the Executive Heads of UN organizations on strengthening the interface between science, policy and society, particularly in areas relevant to sustainable development. The creation of the Board was recommended in January 2012 by the Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.

The UN Secretary-General has announced the creation of the SAB at the inaugural meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development during the 68th session of the UN General Assembly, on 24 September 2013. On the same occasion, he informed that he had requested UNESCO to host the Secretariat for the Board.

The inaugural meeting of the SAB took place in Berlin on 30 and 31 January 2014 at the invitation of the German Federal Government. The session was organized by UNESCO, in cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office and the German Commission for UNESCO.

The board’s 26 members represent a broad research agenda. They will thus bring together in a coherent manner the collective capacity of all relevant scientific fields, with due regard to social and ethical dimensions of sustainable development. In general terms, the Scientific Advisory Board will be entrusted with the following functions:

  • strengthening the linkage between science and policy;
  • ensuring that up-to-date and rigorous science is appropriately reflected in high-level policy discussions within the UN system;
  • offering advice, in cooperation and consultation with the UN agencies concerned, on how the many organizations in the UN system with a science, technology, engineering and humanities mission in the area of sustainability can work together more effectively, avoid mission creep and overlap, and curb counter-productive competition;
  • offering recommendations to the Secretary-General on priorities related to science for sustainable development that should be supported or encouraged within or by the UN system, including for the post-2015 development process;
  • carrying out relevant intellectual work including providing advice to the UN Secretary-General on up-to-date scientific issues relevant to sustainable development, including advice on “assessments and digests around concepts as ‘planetary boundaries’, ‘tipping points’ and ‘environmental thresholds’…”, as indicated in Recommendation 51 of the report of the GSP. This will allow the Secretary-General to articulate scientific issues which have attracted widespread attention in contemporary affairs.


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