Global Forum of Funders: Unleashing Science – Delivering Missions for Sustainability

Global Forum of Funders: Unleashing Science – Delivering Missions for Sustainability

In partnership with the National Research Foundation and prominent international partners, the International Science Council has published a seminal report: Unleashing Science: Delivering Missions for Sustainability –  a call to action emphasising that the achievement of the transformative vision of the SDGs by 2030 is the most pressing challenge for science, requiring game-changing collective action within science systems and funding globally.

Initiated by the establishment of the Global Forum of Funders in 2019, of which the NRF was a Founding Member, the report offers an ambitious approach – a concerted effort to produce actionable knowledge through a set number of Sustainability Science Missions – in the critical areas of food, energy and climate, health and wellbeing, water, and urban areas. Members of the Forum include the NRF, ISC, NSF, IDRC, the Belmont Forum, Future Earth, UKRI, IIASA and Sida.

The focus on Science Missions, presented by the Forum, was endorsed by the Global Research Council during its May 2021 meeting, aligned to the thematic focus on Mission-orientated Research.

Dr Aldo Stroebel, Executive Director Strategic Partnerships at the NRF, and Co-Chairperson, Executive Support Group of the Global Research Council, stated that: “Expedited by shared and critical development challenges, the 21st Century has redefined the status quo of our society, economics, institutional and governance structures, and operational models. In response, the science system has to swiftly develop multidisciplinary and multisectoral ways to redefine and address global challenges faced by modern society. Attaining these goals requires clear pathways, strategic investments and collaboration in key programmes, especially those that deliver missions for sustainability. The need for transformative change is acknowledged and supported by science funders globally.”

The ISC, mandated by the partners of the Global Forum of Funders to lead this prominent initiative, states that to coordinate the scaling up science investment to strongly and sustainably support Sustainability Science Missions, united around a common sustainability agenda, provides a real opportunity for mobilising and putting to use the best global science for societal transformations in an outcome-driven, coordinated and integrated manner. 

Delivering the Sustainability Science Missions will require broad and bold engagement, and commitment, from science funders, but also from decision-makers and influencers in governments, in the private sector and in civil society.

The Unleashing Science report was developed based on the input collected from an ISC-led global calling 2020 to shape a priority action agenda for science. The collected inputs not only informed the development of the report, but also provided valuable insights on research gaps and priorities which, if pursued, could support the impact that the Sustainability Science Missions seek to accomplish. These insights are captured in A Synthesis of Research Gaps. The intention of this synthesis is to help guide future scientific and science funding action. 

The International Science Council and its partners are committed to work with political leaders, science funders, both national and philanthropic, and development aid agencies to identify the most appropriate institutional arrangements and funding mechanisms required to co-construct and deliver on the Sustainability Science Missions.

The report can also be downloaded HERE.

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