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Sustainable Development Solutions Network to Focus on Ten Critical Areas

22 September 2012: The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was launched under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at Columbia University in New York, US, on 22 September 2012. The Network's first task will be to establish ten global expert groups to support problem solving in critical areas.

The ten critical areas for problem solving by the SDSN will be: prospects for global growth, population and planetary boundaries; poverty reduction and peace-building in fragile regions; gender equality, social inclusion, and human rights; education, technology, and the future of jobs; universal health coverage; de-carbonizing the energy system; agriculture, nutrition, and ecosystem services; smart, healthy, and productive cities; good governance of extractive resources; and governance of oceans, biodiversity, and other global commons.

The Network will work with UN agencies, multilateral financing institutions and other international organizations, and also provide technical support to the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University will serve as the SDSN Secretariat. In addition to Director Jeffrey Sachs, the Network will be led by Guido Schmidt-Traub, based at the Columbia University Global Center in Paris, France, as Executive Director, with support from staff at Columbia University's eight Global Centers around the world. Ted Turner and others will serve on the SDSN Leadership Council.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and Ted Turner, founder of the United Nations Foundation, addressed the launch. Eliasson said the Network will be significant in setting the direction of the debate on post-2015 development planning, and that poverty eradication and sustainable development have to be at the center of that agenda. Noting that the critical link between social and environmental sustainability is “still insufficiently represented in our model of economic development,” Eliasson called for sound analysis that assures policy makers and the public that: short-term adjustment costs are bearable; that the vulnerable will be protected; and that the long-term pay-offs are worth the immediate costs. He also stressed the need for an “international division of labor.”

Eliasson also emphasized that the process to develop Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be coordinated and coherent with the processes to consider the post-2015 development agenda, and that the post-2015 framework including agreed SDGs must bring together the social, environmental and economic dimensions of progress, just as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) successfully focused attention on concrete gains in health, education, and access to improved water sources. [SDSN Website] [SDSN Press Release] [Statement of UN Deputy Secretary-General]