About the Conference
The world today has progressed rapidly in terms of technology, communication and human rights compared to our ancestors’ time. Despite this progress, we still face the same challenges that have existed for the past decades such as climate change, poverty and food security.
The increasing gap between the haves and have-nots may lead to dissatisfaction and conflicts. This would have an impact on our environmental, economic as well as social being.
Instead of pointing fingers and accusing who is the responsible party, we need to join forces to navigate, mitigate and overcome these challenges. Science has been in the forefront of our development, but how can science play a role in addressing these problems?
4 Focus Areas
Mitigating Climate Change Risk
In the Global Risks Report 2016, the failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation is perceived as the most impactful risk for the years to come. Climate change has begun to transform life on planet earth. Higher temperatures, rising sea level, increased ocean acidification, changing landscapes, shifting seasons, intensified occurrences of droughts and floods as well as heightened extinction of species are some of the effects of climate change that we face today. As a result, human health, water resources, food security, land as well as marine ecosystems, infrastructure and economic activities are adversely impacted and could escalate into a crisis that threatens global peace. In fact, according to the World Bank, water scarcity could be the new cause of wars in the 21st century. As such, there is an urgent need for all parties to come to a common consultative platform and find practical solutions in the spirit of responsible and ethical co-operation.
Addressing Ideology, Geopolitics and Security
The world is witnessing an unprecedented mass displacement of people due to wars and conflicts. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) annual Global Trends Report: World at War, by end-2014, 59.5 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. This is 8.3 million more than the year before (51.2 million) and the highest annual increase in a single year, further challenging the humanitarian, political, security, and development of countries involved and their neighboring states . This brings into focus the need for science to play a more effective role in international policy making and diplomacy. Scientific values of rationality, transparency and universality can help underpin good governance and build trust between nations to overcome these common problems. This would hopefully forge greater understanding among nations and lead to a less war prone and destructive global landscape.
Forging peace through Economics, Poverty alleviation and Inclusivity
Projections from the World Bank based on the updated poverty line of USD 1.90 a day suggests that in 2015, global poverty has affected around 702 million people or 9.6 % of the world’s population. The increasing trend of income disparity between the rich and poor in major countries and regions poses a major risk to peace. The global economic impact of violence in 2014 was estimated around USD 14.3 trillion in the Global Peace Index 2015 by the Institute of Economies and Peace. However, if the world decreased violence by only 10%, around USD 1.43 trillion in spare economic resources could be directed to support activities towards global economic recovery, maximising development and poverty alleviation. Inclusive development holds the key to reducing poverty and meeting basic human needs such as access to food, water, education, shelter and healthcare. We need to encourage the growth of new financial mechanisms and innovate towards making technologies affordable and accessible, apart from encouraging social entrepreneurship.
Building awareness and consensus through Conventions, Policies, Education and Communication
Albert Einstein once said that, ‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding’. Peace is essential for a nation to achieve stability, societal well-being and progress. Many of the world’s greatest health, environmental and security threats are beyond the ability of any one nation to tackle. Science facilitates a confluence of ideas, knowledge, expertise and resources that transcend national boundaries and traditional disciplines towards effectively addressing pertinent global problems. The universal scientific community is well positioned to bring about an alliance of nations, sectors and people through scientific exchange towards realising common goals and resolving conflicts for a brighter future. The spirit that drives the scientific endeavor can help forge the agenda of peace by fostering greater understanding through conventions, policies, education and communication.