Options Winter 2020: HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, President of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan (RSS) explains the importance of science in building a global society that takes responsibility for both our planet and ourselves.

woman smiling © The Royal Scientific Society

We live in an age of seemingly unprecedented peril. As we face complex and interconnected challenges that affect our entire human family, across borders and beyond cultural identities, it can seem that sanity has fled the building. But all is far from lost. As we strive to monitor and assess, to model and advocate, and to share a conviction that we can create a future based on sensible and compassionate science, we may build a global society that takes responsibility for all our people and for our planet.

We must however work together: scientists acting in unison with society, and all scientific disciplines engaged and in concert. The global COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the  vulnerabilities of disparity as never before, while the accelerating impacts of climate change are becoming ever more apparent and, in many instances, are far more alarming than previously anticipated. Impacts as diverse as rising sea levels, bushfires, and the spread of plant and animal diseases are affecting environments and ecosystems all across the planet.

It is abundantly clear that climate change is not simply an environmental issue. It is a deeply embedded development issue with inevitable and enormous economic and social  consequences. As scientists and science enablers, we urgently need to understand and communicate the scope and magnitude of these challenges, as well as the full ecological impact. Global warming has already hit the Middle East hard, and projections indicate that our region will suffer increasingly profound problems in coming decades as rainfall grows more unpredictable, rising temperatures accelerate evaporation, and the land grows drier.

The RSS strives to address, in creative and inclusive ways, the shared sustainability challenges and unrealized opportunities of Jordan and the MENA region. We aim to work beyond borders to help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals so that we may empower the Paris Agreement. We know that human-made challenges must be met with thoughtful human ingenuity.

The RSS was founded in 1970, in a particularly fragile political environment. Today, as we plan for our next half-century, we seek to redefine our mission in an age of acute challenges that urgently require systematic scientific assessment.

We are therefore honored to represent Jordan as a prospective member of IIASA. This new partnership will allow Jordanian scientists and researchers to contribute to multi-disciplinary and multi-national policy-oriented research. The sharing of expertise will help us move from monitoring to modeling and assessment so that we may plan for a sustainable future. We know that, similarly, our contributions will help fellow members to understand shared challenges from new perspectives. We believe that science provides the language that we need to communicate, to relate challenges, and to create solutions. Together, we can make a difference and steer a course to sanity.