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Knowledge & Diplomacy: Science Advice in the United Nations System
governments to commit themselves to a 15-year program of work that addresses issues such as poverty, environment, conflict, and violence. The report dealt with policy issues such as information technology, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals. The summit adopted the Millennium Declaration that set out a series of development goals that cannot be met without extensive scientific and technological input. Determining how to meet these goals will require knowledge of trends in science and technology.
The Secretary-General regularly convenes, at the request of governments, major international conferences and summits that are aimed at guiding international action on emerging issues. Many of these summits deal with issues that cannot be adequately addressed with effective science advice. The preparatory process for WSSD offers an illustration of the complex role of science and technology in global governance and the need for systematic institutional arrangements for science advice. Agenda 21 articulates the role of science and technology in two distinct ways. First, it recognizes the important role played by the scientific and technological community as a major stakeholder (as outlined in Chapter 31 of Agenda 21). The International Council for Science coordinated the input of this community into the preparatory process for WSSD in cooperation with the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) and the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the InterAcademy Panel (IAP), and the International Social Science Council (ISSC). The contributions of the scientific and technological community were directed at government negotiators through submissions to the preparatory meetings.
Second, Agenda 21 recognized science and technology as being one of the means for implementing sustainable development (together with finance, human resources, and capacity building). This operational aspect of science and technology has not received as much attention as other themes. It is notable that the United Nations Secretary-General’s choice of five priority areas—water, energy, health, agriculture, and biodiversity—was partly influenced by the availability of a large body of scientific and technical knowledge in those fields (Juma, 2002b). Assessments of the role of science and technology in the implementation of sustainable development goals in these five areas can play an important role in identifying opportunities for actions. The existence of science advice capacity in United Nations organs that convene summits and major conferences would help in determining the need for and modalities for such assessments.
Furthermore, the Secretary-General is increasingly being requested by the Security Council to address new threats to international security, such as health, whose effective management requires access to the best available scientific and technical knowledge. Other emerging science-based issues that will require the involvement of the Secretary-General include environmental management. This prognosis suggests that enhancing the capacity of the Office of the Secretary-General to serve governments will involve greater reliance on scientific and technical information (Juma, 2000). This is particularly important, as the role of science in international governance is becoming an explicit part of international diplomacy (Juma, 2002a).
The Secretary-General has recently introduced a number of measures aimed at strengthening the functioning of his office. The appointment of a Deputy Secretary-General provides managerial backstopping and allows the Secretary-General to focus on diplomatic and other functions. Additionally, the Secretary-General has established an