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The creation of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) derives from the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A future worth choosing of 30 January 2012 (hereafter referred to as “the GSP Report”), and specifically from Recommendation 51 thereof which states:

"Governments and the scientific community should take practical steps, including through the launching of a major global scientific initiative, to strengthen the interface between policy and science. This should include the preparation of regular assessments and digests of the science around such concepts as “planetary boundaries”, “tipping points” and “environmental thresholds” in the context of sustainable development. This would complement other scientific work on the sustainable development agenda, including its economic and social aspects, to improve data and knowledge concerning socio-economic factors such as inequality. In addition, the Secretary-General should consider naming a chief scientific adviser or establishing a scientific advisory board with diverse knowledge and experience to advise him or her and other organs of the United Nations."

So as to inform his response to Recommendation 51, the Secretary-General of the United Nations requested the Director-General of UNESCO to convene a small, ad hoc group of Executive Heads of UN organizations with a science-related mandate and of representatives of major scientific bodies to consider the Recommendation and provide advice to him on options for meeting the scientific advisory needs of the Secretary-General and the UN system as a whole, as well as on options for practical steps to strengthen the interface between policy and science, including the launching of a major global scientific initiative.

The Ad Hoc Group convened by the Director-General of UNESCO recognized that full implementation of Recommendation 51 of the GSP Report would provide a strategic opportunity to realize a sustainable world where decision-making is informed by the best available knowledge co-designed, co-produced and co-delivered by the relevant stakeholders. In its Report, the Group concluded that the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Board would best respond to this requirement. As a result, the UN Secretary-General requested the Director-General of UNESCO to establish and chair a Scientific Advisory Board to advise him and other organs of the United Nations.