Science and Urgent Problems of Society WorkGroup

Science and urgent problems of society

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To highlight an importance of basic research and new technology, we have to cope with certain urgent problems. It is obvious that research is a crucial important for progress and development. This is well-expressed for a development during next 30-50 years. But society and our governments are also concerned with many dangerous in time scale of a few years. For example, ecological catastrophe, such as a massive release of radioactivity from the enormous nuclear wastes in our countries; pandemics, such as a new AIDS-type virus; natural disasters, such as a major earthquake in the middles of one of our major cities; breakdown of law and order or outbursts of mass violence in a city; economic collapse in a region and many others.

In addition to these acute short-term threats, our countries also face significant chronic long-term challenges in other areas, including the conversion of industry from military to civilian production (that is very important after perestroyka) or environmental cleanup from the effects of nuclear weapons production.

When considering these various challenges, "we face a situation somewhat comparable to one of war, like the one we each faces on the eye of the 1941 surprise attacks on each of our countries, but a war in which we have not recognized that a world war has already started and could hit us any moment" (V. Keilis-Borok).

Several European and international bodies study this kind of problems, and some of them fund such programs. However, they do it oddly. We can collaborate them and work out general principles and strategy for solving of these urgent problems for the nearest future.


Planned activities

There are no items available at the moment.

Past activities

Activity report 2010

The Work Group (WG) organized a ESOF2010 symposium on “Disaster Prediction and Management”. Scientific research in extreme natural hazards and understanding the conditions when hazard becomes a disaster is quite important not only from scientific point of view, but also to prevent society against catastrophic disasters like happened in Haiti this year (earthquake), in China in 2008 (earthquake and landslides), in USA in 2005 (Katrina hurricane) or in Europe in 2010 (the Icelandic volcano) or in 2002 (flooding). This symposium was a part of the activities in the framework of the project of the International Council for Science (ICSU) “Extreme Natural Hazards and Societal Implications” (

Activity report 2009

Problems of risk due to natural hazards and risk perception are also a great importance for society. At the symposium three distinguished European scientists presented state-of-the-art knowledge on natural hazards, modelling and prediction, and disaster management. Prof. V. Kossobolkov (Russian mathematician inventor a quantitative method for prediction of natural hazards) spoke on statistics of extreme events and their predictability. Prof. G. Panza (Italian seismologist) presented a new approach to natural hazard assessment which combines scenario-based and probabilistic methods. Prof. J. Zlotnicki (French volcanologist) in his talk on volcano dynamics and extreme eruptions mentioned how the disaster management is developed in many regions of the world, particularly in Europe and Asia. Prof. A. Ismail-Zadeh (German geophysicist) presented an overview of the scientific problems related to natural hazards and risks and moderate a discussion. The topic of natural hazards and disasters are multi-disciplinary (natural sciences, engineering and social science), and EuroScience is the best platform for discussion of such problems in Europe.

Activity report 2008

The International Symposium “The Planet Earth” organized by the EuroScience WG “Science and Urgent Problem of Society” and GeoRisk Commission of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG, was held on 22 July in Barcelona, Spain on the occasion of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), which provided both the European and the international science and business communities with an open platform for debate and communication. It was an opportunity to discuss and influence the future of research and innovation in Europe and elsewhere by involving all main stakeholders: scientists, business executives and policy-makers. 

Symposium " Riding the storm: Can science keep us in the saddle? ", 16 July 2006, Euroscience Open Forum, Munich, Germany

The third joint symposium of Euroscience Working Group “Science and Urgent Problems of Society”and the GeoRisk Commission of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics on topic of urgent problems of society was held in Munich, Germany, during the Euroscience Open Forum from 15 July to 19 July 2006 (the first and second meetings took place in Budapest, Hungary, 2002, and in Stockholm, Sweden, 2004).

Activity report 2001

The main activity of the group was directed to a close co-operation with existing and newly established organisations dealing with urgent problems of society. Most recently ties were established with the Commission on Geophysical Risk and Sustainability of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. The purpose of the commission is the promotion of scientific studies applied to the reduction of risk from natural hazards in an increasingly urbanised world. It was suggested to organise joint meetings of our two groups. Namely, the following was written in documents of the Commission: ""Public communication will be done by leasing with large-circulation popular magazines such as National Geographic and by organising special symposia at Science Festivals (e.g., during General Assemblies of the AAAS and EuroScience)"". The Working group is an organiser of Advanced Research Workshop ""Science for Reduction of Risk and Sustainable Development of Society"" in Budapest, Hungary, 15-16 June 2002.

Activity report 2000

Activities of the Working group ""Science and Urgent Problems of Society"" for the period after the 1st General Assembly in Strasbourg were aimed at three directions. First, our main activity addresses analysis and selection of superproposals, which are multidisciplinary, pan-European and directed toward solving urgent societal problems. Several proposals were received so far: ""Detailed Earthquake Scenarios for European cities"" suggested by F. Wenzel (Germany); ""Ground Motion Modelling and Prediction of Natural Catastrophes"" by G. Panza (Italy), ""North oceanic passage: Shortest way from London to Tokyo in XXIst century"" by Ye. Velikhov (Russia), and ""Network in Europe for investigation of the impacts of rapid climate change in sedimentary basins"" by A. Fard (Sweden). The leaders of the proposals had asked Euroscience or at least our Working Group to be an umbrella organisation ready to host the superprojects. The questions arise: could Euroscience be an umbrella organisation for pan-European superprojects as an informational sponsor? And does the European Science Foundation has to play solely such a role as well as a financial sponsor of the projects. This problem should be discussed during the General Assembly. Second activity of the Working group was to establish links with European institutions dealing with urgent problems of society. We are setting up links with the Climate Network in Europe (Brussels) the main goal of which is to promote action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. The WG contacted the INTAS (Brussels) suggesting a superproposal for interdisciplinary and international European program on the Aral Sea. We are establishing contacts with the Program of Risk, Modelling and Policy at the International Institute for Applied System Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria. Also we are in a close relationship with the Program of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences ""Science for survival and sustainable development"". And the third activity was to contact by email discussing news in the urgent scientific problems and science policy in this direction. In future we hope to work at these three directions and to set up local subgroups in each regional section.


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