How is trade better than science

Science policy

UNESCO supports states in creating basic structures for successful research, science, technology and innovation. Science is an important prerequisite for all countries in order to reduce poverty, create jobs and promote sustainable development.

UNESCO advises states on the formulation of a needs-based science policy and assists in setting up a central research infrastructure. It regularly monitors the progress of the states in science policy in the UNESCO Science Report. UNESCO works together with actors such as the regional UN economic commissions, the United Nations University, the OECD and the World Bank. From 2013 to 2016 she supported the work of the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General.

Advice on science policy

Science policy (Science, Technology and Innovation Policy - STI Policy) needs the identification of national strengths and weaknesses, reform of laws and financing instruments, establishment of research institutions and universities and international networking. The international community must support countries that lack experience in organizing such policy processes.

UNESCO suggests new ways of science policy to its member states and supports them (usually more than 20 states at the same time) in their implementation. It initiates reforms and promotes international cooperation. At the regional and international level, UNESCO creates innovative forms of cooperation between states in order to support the international exchange of experience. It strengthens important actors such as parliamentary science committees, national science academies and umbrella organizations.

The Global Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Instruments or GO-SPIN is a structured approach by UNESCO to provide targeted support to states in such reforms. UNESCO also supports states by providing targeted further training to ministerial officials. In addition, UNESCO is strengthening the science-political network between neighboring countries.

In Africa in particular, UNESCO has made great efforts to strengthen science policy in recent years. She has advised the African Union intensively on the formulation of Africa-wide science strategies.

World Science Forum

Since 2003, UNESCO has organized the World Science Forum every two years. Most of the events took place in Budapest and were carried out jointly with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the European Commission and the World Science Council (ICSU). The World Science Forum took place in Brazil in 2013 and in Jordan in 2017. High-ranking politicians, Nobel Prize winners and representatives of scientific organizations will take part in this event, which is being held around World Science Day on November 10th. Website:

UNESCO Science Report

Every five years, the extensive UNESCO Science Report examines current global and country-specific trends and developments in the fields of higher education and research and innovation (STI). The latest edition appeared in 2015, and the German UNESCO Commission published a summary in German.

UNESCO also works closely with the national statistical offices in order to better record and process relevant data about their respective scientific landscape and to introduce and apply internationally customary methods of scientific statistics. A focus of work with statistical offices is also to collect gender-specific data for the scientific sector from around the world.

Together with the World Council for the Social Sciences, UNESCO also publishes the World Report on Social Sciences every three years, most recently in 2016. In 2017, the World Report on Ocean Research was published for the first time.

World Science Years

In recent years, UNESCO has regularly emphasized the importance of research for people through the organization of World Science Years. Examples are the year of physics 2005, the year of astronomy 2009, the year of chemistry 2011, the year of light 2015 and the anniversary year of the periodic table of elements 2019.


UNESCO Science Report. The way to 2030.
German UNESCO Commission, 2015

Scientific Advisory Council to the UN Secretary General (2013-2016)

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) was an advisory body to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It consisted of 26 leading researchers from all over the world. The SAB advised the United Nations on issues relating to science, research and technology for sustainable development. UNESCO ran the business of the SAB. The 26 scientists represented the collective knowledge of various scientific disciplines.

The constituent meeting of the SAB took place at the invitation of the Federal Government on 30./31. January 2014 in Berlin. The meeting was organized by UNESCO, in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office and the German UNESCO Commission. Among other things, the SAB strengthened the connection between science and politics and developed advice on technology, natural sciences, engineering and the humanities. This was done in cooperation with relevant UN organizations and also dealt with how these organizations can cooperate more effectively in the 2030 Agenda. In 2017, the new UN Secretary General António Guterres decided not to reappoint the SAB.

Final report of the SAB

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