17 July 2018

Partnerships with academia to foster SDGs implementation featured during HLPF side event

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) partner Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) co-hosted a side event held on 16 July 2018 at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the margins of the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). This article showcases some highlights of the event.

17 July 2018 - On 16 July 2018, the side event Partnering to implement long-term strategies to achieve the SDGs took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the margins of the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The event was co-hosted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a partner of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), in collaboration with the governments of Slovenia, United Arab Emirates and Colombia.

UNAI collaborates with SDSN to promote the implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Together they mobilize universities and other institutions of higher education to promote teaching, applied research, and problem solving on a range of issues. This side event in particular, aimed to highlight current knowledge gaps on how to achieve the transformations required to successfully implement the SDGs. Among other topics, there was a focus on how governments can engage stakeholders and academia was prominently mentioned during the discussion.

In his remarks, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of SDSN and Professor at Columbia University, explained how academia should be incorporated in the actions plans to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While calling policy makers to get in touch with universities, he pointed out the work, expertise and teaching provided in higher education institutions as crucial elements to help in this regard. Alenka Smerkolj, Minister of Development, Strategic Projects and Cohesion of Slovenia, said that in order to advance the SDGs, "bold and concrete actions" as well as "partnerships for implementation" are needed, being academia a key sector to consider.

Minister Smerkolj stressed that "only by working together and joining forces" there will be positive outcomes. "We all have to consider learning as a factor of our own resilience", she concluded. Along the same line, Paulina Terrazas, from the Office of the Presidency of Mexico, noted that academia was in fact already included in the National Strategy of her country for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As noted in the National Strategy itself, it is required "a structured and systematic approach" between academia and the government in order "to generate comprehensive solutions to the economic, social and environmental challenges" the country face.

Speakers included United Nations representatives as well as Masamichi Kono, Deputy Secretary-General of OECD, Marcos Bonturi, Director of Public Governance of OECD, Ambassador Maria Erla Marelsdottir, Director General for International Development Cooperation (Iceland), David Koppitz, Deputy Minister for Regional Development (Czech Republic), Bambang Brodjonegoro, Minister of National Development Planning (Indonesia), Abdulla Nasser Lootah, Director General of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (United Arab Emirates) and Luis Fernando Mejía, Minister of National Planning (Colombia).