Social scientists provide knowledge needed to address the challenges of global change. Many global change issues are not only difficult because of a lack of political will or ressources, but also because of an insufficient understanding of how patterns of behaviour can be changed.
All scientific programmes of UNESCO, whether on fresh water or on the oceans, involve aspects of socials science. But there is more to global change than loss of biodiversity and climate change.
The intergovernmental programme “Management of Social Transformations” (MOST) of UNESCO since 1994 addresses aspects of global change "that are inherently social". The MOST programme tries to convince policymakers to rely on sound, evidence-based scientific analyses of social problems. It covers topics such as international migration, urban development, ageing and regional integration. Its main pillar is to establish efficient cooperation between research, policy and practice.
The MOST programme has established several instruments to build such cooperation. The “International Forum on the Social Science-Policy Nexus” was organized in 2006 in Buenos Aires. “Forums of Ministers of Social Development” have been established for several world regions in recent years. Several series of social science books and brochures of a high, reliable standard are produced. The MOST policy papers, the International Social Science Journal and the MOST Digital Library are all elements of this publication strategy.
The German Commission for UNESCO acts as a national focal point in Germany for the MOST programme. In the 1990ies, the German Institute for Social Ecological Research contributed to MOST through the research project “Sustainability as a concept for the social sciences". The report of this project is online in the MOST Digital Library.
The chief editor of the UNESCO "International Journal on Multicultural Societies" is the German scientist Matthias Koenig.