Agenda 21, Chapter 31

Scientific And Technological Community

Introduction

31.1 The present chapter focuses on how to enable the scientific and technological community, which includes, among others, engineers, architects, industrial designers, urban planners and other professionals and policy makers, to make a more open and effective contribution to the decision-making processes concerning environment and development. It is important that the role of science and technology in human affairs be more widely known and better understood, both by decision makers who help determine public policy and by the general public. The cooperative relationship existing between the scientific and technological community and the general public should be extended and deepened into a full partnership. Improved communication and cooperation between the scientific and technological community and decision makers will facilitate greater use of scientific and technical information and knowledge in policies and programme implementation. Decision makers should create more favourable conditions for improving training and independent research in sustainable development. Existing multidisciplinary approaches will have to be strengthened and more interdisciplinary studies developed between the scientific and technological community and policy makers and with the general public to provide leadership and practical know-how to the concept of sustainable development. The public should be assisted in communicating their sentiments to the scientific and technological community concerning how science and technology might be better managed to affect their lives in a beneficial way. By the same token, the independence of the scientific and technological community to investigate and publish without restriction and to exchange their findings freely must be assured. The adoption and implementation of ethical principles and codes of practice for the scientific and technological community that are internationally accepted could enhance professionalism and may improve and hasten recognition of the value of its contributions to environment and development, recognizing the continuing evolution and uncertainty of scientific knowledge.

Programme Areas

A. Improving communication and cooperation among the scientific and technological community, decision makers and the public

Basis for action

31.2 The scientific and technological community and policy makers should increase their interaction in order to implement strategies for sustainable development on the basis of the best available knowledge. This implies that decision makers should provide the necessary framework for rigorous research and for full and open communication of the findings of the scientific and technological community, and develop with it ways in which research results and the concerns stemming from the findings can be communicated to decision-making bodies so as to better link scientific and technical knowledge with strategic policy and programme formulation. At the same time, this dialogue would assist the scientific and technological community in developing priorities for research and proposing actions for constructive solutions.

Objectives

31.3 The following objectives are proposed:

Activities

31.4 Governments should undertake the following activities:

Means of implementation

(a) Financing and cost evaluation

31.5 The Conferense secretariat has estimated the average total annual cost (1993-2000) of implementing the activities of this programme to be about $15 million from the international community on grant or concessional terms. These are indicative and order-of-magnitude estimates only and have not been reviewed by Governments. Actual costs and financial terms, including any that are non-concessional, will depend upon, inter alia, the specific strategies and programmes Governments decide upon for implementation.

(b) Capacity-building

31.6 Intergovernmental panels on development and environmental issues should be organized, with emphasis on their scientific and technical aspects, and studies of responsiveness and adaptability included in subsequent programmes of action.

B. Promoting codes of practice and guidelines related to science and technology

Basis for action

31.7 Scientists and technologists have a special set of responsibilities which belong to them both as inheritors of a tradition and as professionals and members of disciplines devoted to the search for knowledge and to the need to protect the biosphere in the context of sustainable development.

31.8 Increased ethical awareness in environmental and developmental decision-making should help to place appropriate priorities for the maintenance and enhancement of life-support systems for their own sake, and in so doing ensure that the functioning of viable natural processes is properly valued by present and future societies. Therefore, a strengthening of the codes of practice and guidelines for the scientific and technological community would increase environmental awareness and contribute to sustainable development. It would build up the level of esteem and regard for the scientific and technological community and facilitate the "accountability" of science and technology.

Objectives

31.9 The objective should be to develop, improve and promote international acceptance of codes of practice and guidelines relating to science and technology in which the integrity of life-support systems is comprehensively accounted for and where the important role of science and technology in reconciling the needs of environment and development is accepted. To be effective in the decision-making process, such principles, codes of practice and guidelines must not only be agreed upon by the scientific and technological community, but also recognized by the society as a whole.

Activities

31.10 The following activities could be undertaken:

Means of implementation

(a) Financing and cost evaluation

31.11 The Conferense secretariat has estimated the average total annual cost (1993-2000) of implementing the activities of this programme to be about $5 million from the international community on grant or concessional terms. These are indicative and order-of-magnitude estimates only and have not been reviewed by Governments. Actual costs and financial terms, including any that are non-concessional, will depend upon, inter alia, the specific strategies and programmes Governments decide upon for implementation.

(b) Capacity-building

31.12 Codes of practice and guidelines, including on appropriate principles, should be developed for and by the scientific and technological community in the pursuit of its research activities and implementation of programmes aimed at sustainable development.



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Comments and suggestions:
Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org