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Experts Provide Input on SDGs

UN logo21 March 2013: A panel of scientists and academics has discussed a science-policy interface in the creation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and presented its conclusions to UN Member States. The panelists' input focused on an understanding of planetary limits, system governance, science capacity building, and developing country innovations.

The Expert Group Meeting on Science and the Sustainable Development Goals took place from 20-21 March 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, organized jointly by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), International Council for Science (ICSU) and International Social Science Council (ISSC).

In opening remarks, Nikhil Seth, Division for Sustainable Development (DSD), UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), emphasized the need for continued conversations with the scientific community. He stressed a focus on community involvement and evidence-based discussions, and called for means to tap the expertise and experience within the UN system and civil society.

Panelists' remarks focused on making science more accessible to policy-makers and the general public. Charles Perrings, Arizona State University, said science helps "ground our goals in reality." He noted the repercussions of local phenomena on a global scale, and called for policies and goals that span national jurisdictions. Claudia Ringler, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), also spoke about the global and systemic nature of current threats, but emphasized the opportunities provided by new forms of global integration.

Other panelists highlighted the need for new forms of governance that can adequately address scientific evidence and phenomena. Norichika Kanie, Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, introduced the concept of "adaptive governance" that can be flexible in addressing new situations. On the subject of developing countries, Youba Sokona, African Climate Policy Centre, suggested they are in a better position to adopt a path towards sustainability because of their lack of "locked-in" institutions and systems. David Griggs, Monash Sustainability Institute, looked at the governance of development, insisting that changes in the environment will put other human development objectives at risk.

An interactive question-and-answer session followed the presentations, allowing participants and webcast viewers to bring their questions to the scientific community. Topics discussed included the state of the environment for future generations, creating partnerships between governments and civil society, scientific innovation, and capacity building in developing countries.

Csaba Körösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary and Co-Chair of the Open Working Group (OWG) on the SDGs, stated his appreciation for the input of the panelists and said more interactive input by the scientific and academic sectors would contribute to the Group's work in the months ahead. [Meeting Website[UN Webcast] [Panelist Biographies] [Event Concept Note] [IISD RS Sources]