Between 2016 and 2030, the world’s population is projected to grow from 7.4 billion to 8.4 billion, adding about 73 million people to the planet every year. Referring to this global trend, Wu Hongbo, United Nations (UN) undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs, noted that global sustainability goals will be influenced by the “profound demographic shifts taking place in our world, especially those related to youth, the elderly, urbanization, and migration.”
As the global population increases, societies everywhere are diversifying at extraordinary rates. The UN Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity characterizes this diversity as “a source of exchange, innovation, and creativity . . . as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature . . . [It] widens the range of options open to everyone; it is one of the roots of development, understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual existence.”
Science centers and museums worldwide are uniquely positioned to celebrate this diversity and to use our venues and our activities to help strengthen understanding and collaboration across all segments of our increasingly diverse communities. And we have a special opportunity very soon.
Each year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates a World Science Day for Peace and Development. In 2016, UNESCO will use its celebratory day to join with the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and science centers and museums worldwide to launch the first International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD).
On November 10, science centers and museums will be encouraged to engage in activities that are relevant to one (or more) of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) declared by the UN. Through blog posts and a global interactive map (the latter of which will be launched in September at the 2016 ASTC Annual Conference), the ISCSMD website tells these stories of how science centers and museums are addressing the SDGs through programs, events, and ongoing exhibitions. In addition, UNESCO will help sponsor a miniconference on November 10 dedicated to the role of science centers and museums in promoting global sustainable development in rapidly diversifying communities around the world.
This November 2016 celebratory initiative will contribute to the goals of the Science Center World Summit in Tokyo in November 2017. It will also serve as the basis for an annual day of recognition in subsequent years for science centers and museums. Visit the ISCSMD website and see our blog posts to learn more about how to participate in ISCSMD.
Anthony (Bud) Rock is ASTC’s president and CEO.