The Alliance's flagship initiative is “Future Earth”, a 10-year initiative on Earth System research for global sustainability. This initiative is intended to bring together and build on the strengths of existing international Global Environmental Change (GEC) programmes and incorporates the outcomes of recent visioning and agenda-setting processes led by several Alliance members.
Future Earth was formally launched in June 2012, during the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, "Rio+20". The overall concept and design of Future Earth was developed by an international Transition Team, which completed its work in May 2013. Representing the sponsors of Future Earth, the Alliance has appointed the programme's first Science Committee and established an Interim Secretariat, which is based at ICSU in Paris and led by Professor Frans Berkhout. The Alliance will ensure the transition to a fully operational Future Earth by May 2014; this will include the establishment of a permanent Future Earth Secretariat, a Governing Council and Future Earth Engagement Committee.
Future Earth will build on the success of existing global environmental change programmes (Diversitas, IGBP, IHDP, WCRP and ESSP), to help develop a stronger and broader community. It will be a global platform to deliver:
- Solution-orientated research for sustainability, linking environmental change and development challenges to satisfy human needs for food, water, energy, health;
- Effective interdisciplinary collaboration across natural and social sciences, humanities, economics, and technology development, to find the best scientific solutions to multi-faceted problems;
- Timely information for policy-makers by generating the knowledge that will support existing and new global and regional integrated assessments;
- Participation of policy-makers, funders, academics, business and industry, and other sectors of civil society in co-designing and co-producing research agendas and knowledge;
- Increased capacity building in science, technology and innovation, especially in developing countries and engagement of a new generation of scientists.
Further Alliance actions will be developed in ways that complement and further support Future Earth. The successful implementation of this flagship initiative is a priority for the Alliance.