Previous Fora / 2003

Knowledge, environmant, development

World Science Forum - Budapest

Knowledge and Society

8-10 November 2003



Some of the present versions of the session summaries are working material. The finalised versions will be posted at the Forum’s homepage on the web.


Knowledge, Environment and Development

  1. Improving knowledge of the environment, and of the interrelation of both environmental processes and societies is of utmost importance for the further development of humankind.

  2. Science assisted us to realise that our resource-demanding economic activities are to be blamed for the local, regional and global environmental problems.

  3. Recent scientific and techological developments, while improving welfare in some regions, have also led to the widening of the gap between North and South.

  4. Science must identify, analyse and understand the complex processes of the environment and societies, and develop solutions to the various problems.

  5. It is our global responsibility to tackle the knowledge gap. It is our common interest to develop science in the third world, consider environmental impact when developing assistance programmes, and share environmentally sound technology with developing countries.

  6. Merely technological solutions are not enough to solve the environmental problems that are usually the results of unethical human behaviour. Thus social sciences and the investigation of human behaviour are highly important.

  7. Science should be more policy-oriented and policy-relevant, especially regarding the interrelated problems of development and the environment.

  8. Finding financial sources for basic research is often rather difficult compared to those for applied research. However, great scientific breakthroughs are often unpredictable and the result of basic research. Thus the development of both research areas is highly important.

  9. One of the main problems for the policy-maker community is to harmonise the short-term and the long-term social and economic interests. The generic solution is that the concept of sustainable development is accepted and applied. This concept and its principles should guide our approach to all human activities and economic sectors. For this we need wider and deeper scientific knowledge of sustainability. Sustainable governance also needs scientific foundation.

  10. We have got global socio-economic and environmental problems; we therefore need global responses based on the achievements of science and technology.

  11. We should also take into account the significant societal, cultural, ethnical and environmental diversity, differences in circumstances, experiences, needs and aspirations, and the capacities, when science identifies problems and relevant solutions.

  12. The implementation of sustainable development in various regions is challenged by the diversity of their sub-regions. Keeping the diversity is vital for our further development towards sustainability.

  13. We should pay attention to problems which endanger further development at global or regional levels; such as the degradation of freshwater resources and coastal zones and the hazard of global climate change.

  14. Water is essential for life on Earth. Today, more than one billion people do not have access to adequate and clean water. Inefficient water resources and/or unsustainable management lead to social tensions or even to international conflicts; here again the science and technology communities could provide scientifically-based solutions for decision-makers by taking into account the comprehensive sustainability principles.

  15. Science can play a crucial role concerning climate change. Scientific uncertainties should be lessened, and policy-makers should understand their responsibility and act in the spirit of the precautionary principle to avoid possible irreversible negative environmental damage.

  16. Science is not only offering general ideas for policy makers and the public, but more emphasis should be placed on concrete response policies and practical actions, based on the results of scientific investigation.

  17. There are many critical trends in terms of various elements of the environment, including atmospheric and water pollution, land degradation, and unregulated use of such resources as forests and groundwater.

  18. Science should assist in the identification and monitoring of these critical trends and recommend solutions for the sustainable management of these natural resources.

  19. Globalisation has critical implications on environmental resources, including minority-majority conflicts on using our common assets.

  20. Scientific research should be holistic, especially in light of emerging global environmental problems and the proposed responses. For new technologies we should also have holistic assessments with respect to their long-term and wide-spread impacts.

  21. The reduction of poverty and hunger should be addressed by science as high-priority areas which are closely linked to access of environmental resources.

  22. For higher efficiency in science and application of scientific results, it is important to improve the co-operation of the scientist, with special emphasis of North-South and South-South co-operation, particularly in such areas as watershed management, forestry and so on.

  23. Science should contribute to a better public understanding of the emerging problems which may have long-term, adverse impacts on the environment and societies. In this regard the proper communication of the tasks and results of science is essential. It is especially valid for various unsustainable tendencies of socio-economic development and for dangerous environmental processes.