UNESCO’s science programmes are chiefly directed at fostering sustainable development and reducing the current imbalance between developing and industrial countries in their respective access to research results. UNESCO concentrates on international cooperation, on setting up international research networks, fostering skill-building at individual and institutional levels and adapting scientific policies to social needs. Among its key challenges are an interdisciplinary approach, dissemination of scientific insights to a broader public, and monitoring of trends. Particular attention is devoted to encouraging women in science.
Natural Sciences UNESCO’s natural science programme concentrates on environmental awareness, management of natural resources and the use of science and technology to foster sustainable development, peace and efforts to eradicate poverty. The programme focuses on climate change, preservation of the diversity of species, natural disaster prevention and alleviation and the promotion of basic sciences and energy sciences. The programme especially aims to fill the young generation with enthusiasm for science. Through its long-term international science programmes MAP (Man and the Biosphere), IHP (International Hydrological Programme) and IGCP (International Geoscience Programme), UNESCO supports the exploration and protection of the environment in which humanity lives.
Social and Human Sciences This specialised sector focuses on the environment through a social, cultural and economic angle. Globalisation induces complex social transformations that go hand in hand with extreme poverty and the loss of basic human rights. UNESCO aims to identify ethic and social issues, particularly on those of science and philosophy. A key concern is to develop shared values and scales – an urgent need in the age of globalisation. Scientific results must be applied to national and local policies and platforms need to be created in order to create a platform for dialogue between scientists and policy-makers.