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Scientists urge collaborative action to address effects of global environmental change

Immediate, collaborative action by governments is necessary to ensure sustainable development in the face of unprecedented global environmental change, according to a statement released yesterday by hundreds of scientists attending the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) Open Science Conference on Global Environmental Change: Regional Challenges in Beijing.

The scientists expressed their concern about the continuing adverse affects of human activities on the global environment and the resulting serious threats to human livelihood. In the conference statement, they resolved to mobilise their knowledge for action, in order to provide society with the scientific information needed to support sustainable development.

“Science has placed the issue of climate change in front of global leaders, assisted greatly by ESSP’s four global environmental change programmes sponsoring the Open Science Conference,” said Dr. Gordon McBean, conference co-chair and a professor at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. “The challenge for scientists now is to better inform governments on the actions they can be taking,” he said.

The statement acknowledges the launch of two important new ESSP research initiatives on human health and Monsoon Asia to complement existing projects on carbon, food and water systems. The Global Environmental Change and Human Health Project will identify and quantify health risks posed by global environmental change, and develop cost effective adaptation strategies. The Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study addresses the interaction between humans and the environment in Monsoon Asia in order to support strategies for sustainable development in the region.

The four-day Open Science Conference has focused on how regions can cope with the consequences of natural and human-driven changes to the Earth’s environment, what future changes they can expect, and what the nature of those changes and their impact on human livelihood will be. Conference sessions have underscored how regional sustainability challenges can best be met by the integrated, global approach followed by ESSP programmes. This approach bridges the disciplinary gaps across environmental science, and has dramatically improved understanding of the complex Earth system and its interaction with human society.

ESSP is a joint initiative of four global environmental change research programmes: DIVERSITAS, the international programme of biodiversity science, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

The Statement of the Beijing Conference on Global Environmental Change

The global environmental change scientists gathered in Beijing for the Open Science Conference on Global Environmental Changes – Regional Challenges, note:

- The Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP), created by four global environmental change programmes (DIVERSITAS, IGBP, IHDP, WCRP) through the 2001 Amsterdam Declaration to bridge the disciplinary gaps across environmental science, is now dramatically improving our understanding of the complex Earth system.

- In this era of human activities modifying the planet on a global scale, we are concerned for the continuing adverse affects on the global environment and the resulting serious threats to sustainable development of human society.

In view of the importance of the impacts on human health, the Beijing Conference launched the Global Environmental Change and Human Health Project.

Recognising that there are issues special to regions, the Beijing Conference initiated the Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study to examine the threats posed to populations and ecosystems in Monsoon Asia.

We affirm that the ESSP, its regionalized activities together with START, on-going joint projects on Food Security, Carbon and Water Systems and the four parent Global Environmental Change Programmes will:

- Create new understanding of key components of the earth system and their dynamic interactions, and address uncertainties and risks;

- Take responsibility to mobilise knowledge for action, and provide society with the scientific information to better meet present and future needs within the context of sustainable development.

The Earth System Science Partnership urges governments to work with us on these initiatives while also undertaking actions to reduce the impact of human activities on the environment in order to ensure sustainable development.

Beijing Open Science Conference Co-Chairs:

Qin Dahe
China Meteorological Administration
Gordon McBean
University of Western Ontario, Canada

Angelika Dummermuth | alfa
Further information:

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