Future Earth is a 10–year international global change research programme launched in June 2012, at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Future Earth builds and shares knowledge for sustainable development. Future Earth aims for greater societal impact of global change research by engaging the various stakeholders related to sustainable development in the design and dissemination of research.
Future Earth is a global platform for international research collaboration and vast stakeholder engagement. The initiative coordinates new, interdisciplinary and system approaches to research on three themes: Dynamic Planet, Global Development and Transformations towards Sustainability. Future Earth's mission is to deliver research that can make a difference to the world and generate outputs that can be used. Therefore engagement and impact are not second order priorities for Future Earth but are developped in an integrated fashion with the ground-breaking science.
Future Earth science is built on research projects and other initiatives related to Global Environmental Change. Future Earth brings together the existing programmes on global environmental change: DIVERSITAS, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). A formal process for the accession of these projects into Future Earth is underway. Future Earth engages scientists of all disciplines, natural and social, as well as engineering, the humanities and law.
Future Earth will also be a platform for international engagement. A key element in Future Earth is the co-design and co-production knowledge. To ensure that the research conducted under Future Earth is accessible and relevant to its stakeholders, Future Earth aims to generate knowledge in partnership with users of science such as governments, business and civil society from all regions of the world. Stakeholder engagement is considered as a two-way process that aims at getting stakeholder inputs into Future Earth and also helps the stakeholders enrich their outputs.
The innovative co-design aspect of the Future Earth is reflected in the governance structure of the initiative. Future Earth is led by a multi-stakeholder Governing Council which is the ultimate decision-making body. Future Earth's direction is guided by a Science Committee and an Engagement Committee. The Science Committee provides scientific guidance for the development of new projects. The Engagement Committee provides leadership and strategic guidance on how to involve stakeholders throughout the entire research process from co-design to dissemination.
Future Earth will also have a regionally distributed secretariat with a unique and innovative structure that spans three continents. The new secretariat comprises five global hubs which will function as a single entity, and are located in Canada (Montreal), France (Paris), Japan (Tokyo), Sweden (Stockholm) and the United States (Colorado). These organisations are complemented by regional hubs. The Secretariat coordinates the scientific projects and performs the day-to-day management of Future Earth.
Future Earth national committees and their regional clusters such as the European Alliance for Global Change Research National Committees will have an important role in implementing the co-design objective of Future Earth. The success of Future Earth does not depend only on understanding global processes but also on addressing how these influence local problems and challenges. The national committees are in excellent position to develop long-lasting links to the local stakeholders and to design paths for sustainable development in partnership with them.
Future Earth is sponsored by the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability comprising the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Belmont Forum of funding agencies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU), and the World Meteorological Organization as an observer.
For more information, see Future Earth.