Navigating complex environmental challenges

Newswise — Global Change Program Future Earth is an international alliance of organizations and agencies established by the United Nations in June 2012. The Future Earth 2025 Vision has identified eight global challenges for scientific research to accelerate progress in sustainability, improve collaboration and mobilize resources. .

After more than a decade of this global change program, researchers analyze the future Earth's challenges and the way forward. The discussion presented in the recently published paper reviews these challenges facing the coalition and suggests solutions to help these programs meet the many needs of the global community.

The work was published on November 15 Ecosystem health and sustainability.

“The current global change program Future Earth is modest and inspires innovative research to address key sustainability issues. In this article, we discuss the UN's call for global science to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is our perspective. Focus on the future development of the Global Change Program,” said Yonglong Lu, a chair professor at Xiamen University in Fujian, China.

Three main challenges facing the Global Change Program have been identified. The authors first point to the lack of visibility of the future Earth in the global scientific community. They attribute this to a lack of engagement with disciplinary scientific associations, which often guide and facilitate research and collaboration. Lack of engagement makes it difficult for Future Earth to inspire the innovative research needed to achieve its goals.

Due to the lack of engagement with the international scientific community, Future Earth has developed a “top-down approach” to developing priorities and programming. This approach ignores the local communities affected by sustainability programs and prevents Future Earth from responding conveniently to the needs of communities.

A final challenge presented by the paper is that the Global South is underrepresented in Future Earth. “In fact, there are enormous opportunities in the Global South to tackle scientific issues such as water security, environmental pollution, food security and human health that are driven by rapid economic and social transformation,” Lu said.

Finally, the paper provides concrete recommendations to help build a stronger, integrated global change agenda to achieve the goals set out in the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These five recommendations range from using an integrated global change program as a major international research platform to research and science translation into policy.

“To address global grand challenges and to act as an internationally authoritative source of knowledge, the Integrated Global Change Program must be more proactive and flexible to respond to the large-scale, complex and urgent issues facing the global community.” face-to-face while recognizing the dynamic interactions between coupled human-natural systems,” Lu said.

The researchers also highlighted the importance of engaging the Global South and various stakeholders, from global industry to business to national, state and local governments.

Going forward, the researchers emphasize that any new integrated global change program will need to bring stakeholders together and foster collaboration.

“We need to build a collaborative sustainability science alliance across geopolitical divides. This program will help develop and implement global and national science, technology and innovation for sustainable development goal roadmaps, sharing science and knowledge to meet human needs for water, health. Quality education, sanitation and food security globally while maintaining ecosystem and planetary health,” Lu said.

Other contributors are Professor Bojie Fu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Eco-Environmental Science Research Center in Beijing, China, Professor Tandong Yao of the Tibetan Plateau Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China, and Professor Dahe Qin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources , Lanzhou, China. All authors were involved in the initiation and review of Future Earth and previous global environmental programs.

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the International Partnership Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Fundamental Research Foundation of the Central Universities.