Notes #10

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Stumbled over …

An interesting well-written piece by Philip ball on how Science must move with the times. Science has changed over centuries. It is no longer driven by lone figures but has become a team effort; it often relies now on data sets so vast that human brains cannot hope to hold or parse them all; and it increasingly confronts issues of global reach and even existential urgency. After a long historic review, the article makes the point that given these changes, the structural and institutional context in which science is done, are no longer fit for purpose.

Some of the key questions that confront science today are about whether its methods, practices and ethos, pursued with very little real change s(…) are fit for purpose in the light of the challenges — conceptual and practical — we now face. Can science continue to fulfil its social contract and to reach new horizons by advancing on the same footing into the future? Or does something need to shift?

Philip Ball


Based on discussions held in various forums, including during the UN Environment Assembly Bureau, the CPR sub-committee meeting, and consultations with regional and political groups, and taking into account inputs from member States and Stakeholders, which are available on a dedicated website, the Consensual elements for the theme for the fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) have been identified:

The majority of Member States expressed support for a theme that is related to nature-based solutions in the context of sustainable development. Such support builds on the tentative thematic area 1 set out in the “thought starter”. There is also interest among stakeholders for such a theme. In addition, many have expressed interest in a holistic approach

The final decision will be made by the Bureau of the UN Environment Assembly on 3 December 2019.

Stakeholder Participation in the SDGs

A must-read article by Carole-Anne Sénit on Leaving no one behind? The influence of civil society participation on the Sustainable Development Goals, starting from the assumption that spaces for civil society participation within intergovernmental negotiations on sustainability have are often uncritically accepted as a remedy for an assumed democratic deficit of intergovernmental policymaking. She argues that civil society’s capacity to democratize global sustainability governance however is constrained by the limited influence of these spaces on policymaking. The article explores the relationship between the format of participatory spaces and their influence on the negotiations of the Sustainable Development Goals. It finds that civil society is more likely to influence within informal and exclusive participatory spaces, and when these spaces are provided early in the negotiating process, at international and national level. This reveals a democracy–influence paradox, as the actors with the capacities to engage repeatedly and informally with negotiators are seldom those that are most representative of global civil society.

Reading recommendations

In other news …

#Artificial Intelligence#Democracy#Nature Based Solutions#Research Policy#Stakeholder Engagement#Statistics#Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)#UNEA