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The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the creation of the Scientific Advisory Board on 24 September 2013, during the inaugural meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

In the Secretary-General’s own words: "To further inform the debate on sustainable development, I have decided to create a Scientific Advisory Board. It will comprise renowned scientists representing various fields of natural, social and human sciences. We must strengthen the interface between science and policy, so that the latest scientific findings are reflected in our high-level policy discussions. I have asked Ms. Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, to establish the Board. UNESCO will host the Secretariat."

It is the first time that a UN Secretary-General set up such a Board to bring together leading scientists in an effort to influence and shape orientations at the multilateral level to advance sustainable development and poverty eradication worldwide. Through this decision, the Secretary-General underlines that fact that decision-making processes have to be informed by scientific evidence and knowledge, and that international and transdisciplinary scientific collaboration is a prerequisite to reach global sustainability. By bringing together the collective capacity of a broad range of scientific fields commonly associated with sustainability, with due regard to the social and ethical aspects of sustainable development, the Board endeavours to strengthen the interface between science, policy and society.