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Earth System Science for Global Sustainability: The Grand Challenges (2010)
Developing a new vision and strategic framework for Earth System Research - an ICSU initiative
The document proposes a global research initiative centered on five Grand Challenges that must be addressed over the next decade to be able to manage the global environmental change now underway and to cope with the change that we cannot manage.
In the past decades research focused predominantly on understanding the functioning of the earth system and on the impact of human beings on the system. We now know enough to be able to indentify a wide range of human activities that may cause significant human suffering, if no action is taken. The new challenges are thus to develop response strategies to global change, on the one hand, and to deepen our knowledge of the functioning of the Earth system and its critical thresholds on the other hand. This will require new ways of doing research that better link science and society to address the needs of decision-makers and citizens at global, regional, national, and local scales.
This report is the result of a large international consultation by the International Council for Science (ICSU) to identify the grand challenges of the next decades (see the ProClim- News of December 2009).
The research questions posed in the report shall become key elements of future research programs or be incorporated in todays programs IGBP, WCRP, IHDP and DIVERSITAS.