News

UN Secretary-General Creates Scientific Advisory Board

UNU Rector Tshilidzi Marwala will be a member of the Board, which will provide independent advice on breakthroughs in science and technology.

Rapid advances in science and technology present immense opportunities to make progress on the world's biggest sustainable development challenges, ranging from climate change and peacebuilding to food security and public health. But due to the inherent interconnections among development issues, new scientific breakthroughs can also create complex ethical, social, technical and political risks that must be understood and addressed.

Today, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced the creation of his Scientific Advisory Board to ensure the UN will be better able to anticipate emerging issues, harness the benefits of scientific advances and mitigate potential risks.

“Scientific and technological progress can support efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, but they are also giving rise to ethical, legal and political concerns that require multilateral solutions,” Mr. Guterres said.

“My Scientific Advisory Board will strengthen the role of the United Nations as a reliable source of data and evidence and provide advice to me and my senior management team.”

The Advisory Board will comprise eminent scientists, chief scientists of UN System entities, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, and UNU Rector Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala.

Prof. Marwala highlighted the opportunity for UNU to contribute its expertise: “With 13 institutes and a vast body of research across the 17 SDGs, UNU is in a distinct position to provide scientific advice to the Secretary-General and the Senior Management Group through the Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board.”

The primary objective of the Board is to provide independent insights on trends at the intersection of science, technology, ethics, governance and sustainable development. Through their collaborative efforts, the Board and its network will support United Nations leaders in anticipating, adapting to and leveraging the latest scientific advancements in their work for people, planet and prosperity.

Importantly, the Advisory Board will also be associated with a network of scientific institutions that represent voices from diverse geographic, linguistic and age groups with a particular focus on developing countries. Network institutions will collaborate with the Board through working groups on specific issues, horizon scanning to anticipate new science and technology developments, dissemination of analysis and reports, and capacity building activities.

The establishment of the Board marks a crucial step towards capturing the full potential of science and technology for the collective benefit of all UN Member States. The Board's collaborative efforts will bolster the UN’s capacity to address the intricate challenges and opportunities at the forefront of science and technology, forging a path towards a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

Scientific Advisory Board Membership

External Members

  • Professor Yoshua Bengio, A.M. Turing Award, Scientific Director of Mila — Quebec AI Institute, Full Professor, Department of Computer Science and Operations Research, Université de Montréal
  • Professor Sandra Díaz, Senior Principal Investigator CONICET and Professor of Ecology Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina
  • Professor Saleemul Huq, Director International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Independent University Bangladesh
  • Professor Fei-Fei Li, Sequoia Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University; Denning Family Co-Director, Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI, Stanford University
  • Professor Alan Lightman, Professor of the Practice of the Humanities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Professor Thuli Madonsela, Professor of Law, Stellenbosch University
  • Professor Thomas C. Südhof, Nobel Laureate, Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University School of Medicine

United Nations Members

  • Chief Scientists from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), and World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
  • Amandeep Singh Gill, Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology
  • Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala, Rector, United Nations University

For more information on the UN Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board, read the press release on the United Nations website.

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