November 8, 2020
Back in 2016, I blogged about the United Nation’s World Science Day for Peace and Development [see blog post]. As this global celebration falls on November 10th every year, right after elections take place in the United States, the purpose and value of this day are lost and not on the radar of many. Yet there couldn’t be a more important time to honor the mission of this day and this year’s theme, Science for and with Society.
From the United Nations website for World Science Day for Peace and Development:
World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the significant role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives.
By linking science more closely with society, World Science Day for Peace and Development aims to ensure that citizens are kept informed of developments in science. It also underscores the role scientists play in broadening our understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home and in making our societies more sustainable.
This year, at a time when the world is struggling with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the focus of World Science Day is on “Science for and with Society in dealing with the global pandemic.”
Throughout this unprecedented health crisis, UNESCO, as the UN Agency with the field of science in its mandate, has endeavoured to bring science closer to society and to bolster the critically needed international scientific collaborations. From the science perspective, UNESCO’s response to COVID-19 is structured around three major pillars: promoting international scientific cooperation, ensuring access to water, and supporting ecological reconstruction.
The three pillars of this year’s theme is also closely tied to UNESCO continuing global dialogues on the 2019 theme, open science.
“Open Science seeks to make scientific information, knowledge and data available to all. By increasing access to information, it aims to give all scientists, innovators, engineers, entrepreneurs and citizens the opportunity to observe, contribute and create knowledge in the fields of science, technology and innovation. Not only does this approach boost transparency and accountability, it helps create equal opportunities for all, by encouraging engagement with scientific culture.” — Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, Message on the occasion of World Science Day for Peace and Development 2019
The United Nations has not yet posted their annual video for World Science Day 2020, but I will add that here as soon as it becomes available.
From my perspective as a scientist, the science community has identified the “emerging scientific issues” and the resources and directions where science needs to focus. From my perspective as an educator, there is so much more work to be done, assisting all individuals of all ages to see the connections between science and society, and how even individual actions can have a greater benefit for a just and sustainable future for the planet. These connections need to be made in our schools, in our neighborhoods, with our policy-makers – and it starts with having a conversation and sharing your own knowledge; or, we should reach outside our science community by encouraging others to be comfortable enough to ask questions.
Today should not be a one-time annual celebration. For some, this may be the first time you actively reach out to a neighbor or teacher to discuss science and society connections. For all of us in the science community, this can’t be a one-time event – every day needs to be World Science Day.