World Science Day for Peace and Development

The phrase “human rights” usually brings to mind things like, the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to work and education. The right to participate in and benefit from science isn’t something that usually comes to mind.

November 10th marks the World Science Day for Peace and Development, which highlights the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives. This year’s theme, “Science is a Human Right”, celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art.27) and the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers.

By focusing on this theme, UNESCO aims to spark a global conversation about ways to improve access to and the benefits of science, in order to advance sustainable development and conserve Earth’s limited resources. They call on businesses, governments, civil society, and scientists to fully embrace the values of responsible and ethical science.                   

UNESCO’s Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers, passed in 2017, states that member states should, “contribute constructively to the fabric of science, culture and education, and the promotion of science and innovation in their own country… [and] promote access to research results and engage in the sharing of scientific data between researchers, and to policy-makers, and to the public wherever possible, while being mindful of existing rights.”

ISTC fulfills these recommendations through its publicly funded research and engagement efforts. From conducting research on microplastics in the environment to finding novel uses for carbon dioxide captured from power plants, ISTC researchers make significant contributions to their fields of research. Through the Illinois Sustainability Awards, the Center highlights projects by businesses and organizations that improve sustainability in Illinois. The Emerging Contaminants in the Environment Conference brings together researchers from all over the United States and even other countries to share their research and work toward solutions that can have an international impact.

Although UNESCO and ISTC approach the issue from different perspectives, both are working toward the same goal of a better world for everyone. Use today to celebrate the ways that science can make a difference and consider ways that you can too.