Natural Science

UNESCO’s goals

Key science themes for UNESCO are Science for a Sustainable Future and One Planet, One Ocean.

What we do in New Zealand

In New Zealand, our priority activities include:

  • promoting public fora to discuss and propose sustainable development options
  • participating in national and international meetings on natural resource use
  • supporting national senior school science prizes that raise the profile of science in schools and promote the important contribution of science and technology to New Zealand’s future
  • promoting the participation of women in science – mainly through support of the L’Oréal Women in Science Awards
  • promoting and celebrating the Aoraki McKenzie Dark Sky Reserve
  • supporting work on traditional calendars and the links between traditional knowledge and climate change.

Key projects and links

‘Te hurihuri o te Ao: Cycles of Change’

In June 2013, we co-hosted with UNESCO’s Climate Frontlines programme, an international experts meeting ‘Te hurihuri o te Ao: Cycles of Change’ in Auckland, New Zealand.

Cycles of Change was the first event of its kind to be held in New Zealand. It brought together a group of indigenous and scientific knowledge holders to discuss how indigenous knowledge can inform policies and scientific perspectives on climate change.

Traditional environmental knowledge – such as seasonal and astronomical calendars – is built up through generations. It provides layers of observations on local shifts in the environment relevant to climate change issues today.

Many communities, particularly in the Pacific, are already facing the first impacts of climate change. Their voices have remained largely on the sidelines of climate change debates. UNESCO wants to change that and provide opportunities for local and indigenous knowledge holders to have a voice in future policy-making.

The insights that were shared at this event will help address the gap that is created when the science of climate change is based on abstract data and separated from local and cultural considerations.

Participants shared their knowledge and experience to highlight the contribution community-level observations and traditional knowledge can make in the design of tools to adapt to climate change at both national and global levels.

Participants in the event included indigenous peoples from New Zealand and Pacific communities, scientific researchers across multiple disciplines, and community-based project partners from UNESCO’s Climate Frontlines – all with a particular interest in seasonal calendars and environmental change.

L’Oreal-UNESCO Fellowships for Young Women in Science

For the past 15 years, UNESCO and the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation have sought to recognise women researchers who, through the scope of their work, have contributed to overcoming the global challenges of tomorrow. Each year, the For Women in Science Programme highlights scientific excellence and encourages talent through awards and fellowships.

UNESCO New Zealand supports this initiative by promoting the awards in New Zealand, and subsequently evaluating and putting forward nominations for further consideration by an international jury at UNESCO Headquarters.

Find out more about the L’Oréal Women in Science Awards.