2022 is Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development


The year 2022 has been declared by the United Nations as the international year of basic sciences for sustainable development. The United Nations calls for year-round activities celebrating the linkage between basic sciences and sustainable development goals (SDGs). The SDGs, part of the UN agenda 2030 for sustainable development, are ambitious goals that member nations of the UN have agreed on to achieve to ensure a balanced, sustainable and inclusive development of the planet.

Basic sciences have important contributions to make towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and for achieving the SDGs. Basic sciences provide the essential means to meet crucial challenges such as universal access to food, energy, health coverage and communication technologies. They enable us to understand the impact of the currently nearly 8 billion people on the planet, impacts of environmental challenges such as depletion of the ozone layer, climate change, depletion of natural resources and the extinction of living species.

Basic sciences are just one step before applications of technology, the latter being more popular but founded in the understanding of basic sciences. The contributions of basic, curiosity-based, sciences are not well appreciated, certainly not to the extent that it should be. They are nonetheless at the basis of major technological advances that stimulate innovation which is essential for training future professionals and for capacity building. It is basic sciences which help create a society of informed and responsible citizens who can better take part in decisions that affect their future.

According to Michal Spiro, President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), “Basic sciences provide the essential means to meet crucial challenges such as universal access to food, energy, health coverage and communication technologies.” The recently revised Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers document of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) also recalls the importance of bringing together politicians, scientists, diplomats, international organizations, entrepreneurs and every goodwill person in the pursuit of having an inclusive and sustainable society.

The United Nations gives high value to basic sciences for enhancing the quality of life and believes that enhanced global awareness and increased education in the basic sciences is vital to attaining sustainable development all over the world. The applications of basic sciences are vital for advances in medicine, industry, agriculture, water resources, energy planning, environment, communications and culture, all of which are needed for a productive human life. Basic sciences and emerging technologies respond to the needs of humankind by providing access to information and increasing the health and well-being of individuals, communities and societies.

The International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD) is being coordinated by the UNSECO and has the following themes identified as focus areas:

  • Strengthening the presence and the visibility of women
  • Basic sciences as sources of international dialogue and peace
  • Science as a global public good
  • Innovation and economic development
  • Education and human development
  • Meeting global challenges

The 2022 International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development is a unique opportunity to convince all stakeholders that through a basic understanding of nature, we can optimize the ecosystem services we receive from our common environment without destroying the latter.

The IYBSSD will surely encourage exchanges between scientists and all categories of stakeholders, whether from grassroots communities or political decision makers and international leaders, as well as associations, students and local authorities. It is also an area critical for initiating rational and innovative thinking and for creating a knowledgebased and knowledge-driven society.

Trisha Gupta

Trisha Gupta is a sustainability professional with advanced degrees in environmental communication and conservation ecology.

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