2022 Declared International Year Of Basic Sciences For Sustainable Development

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2022 as the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, recognizing the role of basic research to achieve the Sustainable Development goals by 2030.

AsianScientist (Dec. 8, 2021) – In a move that shifted the spotlight to fundamental research endeavors worldwide, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has approved a resolution endorsing 2022 as the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development. The declaration heeds the recommendations of 193 UN member states and was announced last December 2, 2021.

The UN first set out the 2030 Agenda and 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 as an urgent call for action, spurring strategies to achieve prosperity, reduce inequalities and protect the future of the planet. With the 2030 deadline less than a decade away, member states and organizations around the world continue to lay out ambitious plans toward goals like zero hunger, affordable and clean energy, climate action as well as industry, innovation and infrastructure.

For societal change to unfold, basic research acts the foundation underlying high-impact applications, from biomedicine to manufacturing. However, countries vary widely in the extent of their investments in the basic sciences, with some allocating less than 10 percent of their research expenditure to these fundamental studies.

With the new resolution, the UN hopes to raise awareness about the value of basic research in raising the standards of living and achieving sustainable development. By building capacities in the basic sciences, countries will be better equipped to meet today’s pressing challenges while preparing for future threats.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a shining example, with the first approved vaccines using messenger RNA technology, built on principles discovered through fundamental molecular biology research decades ago. Meanwhile, discoveries about molecules, their structures and functions are laying the groundwork for catalyzing more energy-efficient reactions and building more durable materials.

Another testament to the links between basic science and societal progress is the development of the transistor, a critical component of just about every electronic device used by households and industries everyday. It took about 50 years of basic research before the first transistor radio entered the market, eventually paving the way for smaller and smaller circuits. Now, thousands of tiny transistors work together in smartphones and high-performance computers.

With 2022 now formally recognized as the Year of Basic Sciences, a kick-off conference is slated for June 30 to July 1 next year, with initiatives and activities set for launch to promote support for fundamental research efforts globally. This culminates a four-year campaign led by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics alongside 25 other scientific unions and research organizations.


Source: United Nations General Assembly; Photo: Shutterstock.
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