The SDG realization: Mobilizing science, technology and innovation and strengthening the science-policy-society interface

Earlier this month, an informal meeting of the High-Level Political Forum 2021 explored the challenges and opportunities for mobilizing science, technology and innovation (STI) and strengthening the science-policy-society interface to support the implementation of SDGs.

STI: The benefits and the risks

The global progress of STI has been revolutionary, promising tremendous benefits to the societies, which have been even more evident in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state-of-the-art technologies in vaccine development have provided powerful means to fight and eradicate the disease; meanwhile, the advancement of ICT allows people to work remotely, resume economic activities and build social connections across the world. On the other hand, the discoveries of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and 5G networks are expected to be the backbones of our societies for the next decade, advancing global economic, social and environmental development to an unprecedented extent. Despite the immense potential for STI in SDGs realization, challenges abound. Around half of the world’s population remains digitally unconnected, creating a digital divide that hinders numerous lives in the enjoyment of STI services. The weak alignment between current STI and SDGs has also exacerbated inequalities in vulnerable communities including women and indigenous people, undermining the global achievements of the 2030 Agenda.

Sustainable and transformative STI pathways towards SDG realization

To ensure effective mobilization of STI in SDG realization, a better science-policy-society interface is utterly needed. Policymakers should focus on enhancing the availability of open data for STI in tackling social issues, while ensuring the nature of these STI are in alignment with the sustainable development principles. Moreover, multi-stakeholder partnerships in scientific research, open innovation and youth nurturement should be further strengthened for global digital transformation. To address the global digital divide, inclusiveness should be put in the utmost priority of STI advancement. It includes strengthening the participation of women and indigenous communities in the sector, who are often underrepresented; as well as providing universal STI services through provision of digital infrastructures, affordable Internet, and digital literacy skills for the unconnected people. It is also important to build public trust in STI related to all areas of sustainable development, and it is policymakers’ and companies’ responsibility to prevent exacerbation of violence, hate and inequalities in such means.

Advances in STI should be harnessed to enhance equal opportunities and access to basic services so no one is left behind. Governments and the international community have a central role in providing directionality to innovation activities to ensure STI is driven by considerations of inclusiveness and sustainability. The pandemic is a wake-up call for effective bilateral and multilateral cooperation to collectively address the sustainability challenges and accelerate the global progress of SDGs through the means of STI.

Resource:

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&type=20000&nr=7188&menu=2993

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/TFM/STIForum2017

Meeting Title: 2021 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2021), 11th Informal Meeting

Date/Location: Friday, 9 July 2021; 11:15-13:15; The meeting was held virtually

Speaker:

Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya (Ukraine), Vice President of ECOSOC;

Mr. Mohammad Koba, Co-Chair of the 2021 STI Forum, Ambassador and Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations;

Mr. Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU);

Mr. Andrejs Pildegovičs, Co-Chair of the 2021 STI Forum, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations;

Ms. Cherry Murray, Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s 10 Member Group to Support the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, Professor of Physics and Deputy Director for Research, Biosphere 2, University of Arizona; etc.

Written by: WIT-UN Representative Iris Sit

2021 ECOSOC Integration Segment

The 2021 ECOSOC Integration Segment held on 2 July discussed policy recommendations from ECOSOC subsidiary bodies and the UN system on sustainable and resilient COVID-19 recovery and effective achievement of the 2030 Agenda to prepare the thematic review of HLPF 2021.

A pandemic that turned into a socio-economic crisis

The unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and further exacerbated multidimensional inequalities across the world, threatening the global progress of achieving the SDGs. Its socio-economic impacts are estimated to be four times worse than the 2008 financial crisis, causing the most devastating global economic recession, putting workers at risk of destroyed livelihoods and pushing millions into extreme poverty. While these impacts are significant to a global extent, most are disproportionately affecting people in developing countries, and those in vulnerable groups such as women and girls, young workers, migrants and refugees, etc. To properly address the socio-economic crisis and attain a sustainable recovery, integrated and transformative policy responses with sustainability criteria at core are needed.

A sustainable and resilient recovery: Paving for the achievement of SDGs

To address SDG16: peace and justice for all and effective institutions in the COVID-19 responses, strengthening institutions, governance and the rule of law is crucial. Governments should ensure a transparent, inclusive and non-discriminatory process of decision-making, with full participation of stakeholders including vulnerable and marginalized groups at all stages. In addition, governments should also adopt progressive taxation to redirect fiscal resources to the most vulnerable, such as providing adequate liquidity assistance and debt relief programs. In response to the worsening crime rate and social instability under COVID-19, governments’ efforts in crime prevention, offender rehabilitation and integration, and corruption counteraction are utterly essential to a harmonized and inclusive society.

To promote sustainable and just economies, policy responses should focus on achieving SDG8: decent work and economic growth; SDG10: reduced inequalities; and SDG12: responsible consumption and production. These include market prioritization on clean and efficient energy, electric and hybrid transport, smart agriculture and green infrastructure. Comprehensive support on economic transformation and productive capacity enhancement for developing countries should also be provided through equitable access to finance and education on science, technology and innovation.

Recovery policies focusing on strengthening human well-being and capabilities should be centered around SDG1: no poverty; SDG2: zero hunger; and SDG3: good health and well-being. The development of human-centered policies and science-based solutions, in particular, is imperative to effectively relieve poverty, food insecurity and impacts of climate change in developing countries. Digital connectivity and reliable data are thus required to accelerate the innovation and decision-making process. On the other hand, the implementation of universal health coverage and free COVID-19 vaccination for all should also be executed urgently to ensure equitable access to human rights services.

Although the pandemic has exposed our existing vulnerabilities and reversed the progress of achieving the SDGs, it is certain that with multilateralism at heart of policy responses, there is hope for a sustainable recovery and the achievement of the SDGs.

References:

https://www.un.org/ecosoc/en/events/2021/2021-integration-segment

https://www.un.org/ecosoc/sites/www.un.org.ecosoc/files/files/en/integration/2021/210617_ECOSOC-Integration-Segment_CN_REV.pdf

Meeting Title: 2021 ECOSOC Integration Segment

Date/Location: Friday, 2 July 2021; 09:00-11:00 and 12:00-14:00; Conference Room 1, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers:

Mr. Juan Sandoval Mendiolea, Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United

Nations, Vice-President of ECOSOC;

Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations;

Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP);

Mr. Alessandro Cortese, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations in Vienna

and Chair of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) at its 30th session;

H.E. Mr. Mher Margaryan, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations in New York and Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at its 65th session;

Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and many more

Written by: WIT Representative Iris Sit

MSME Day 2021: Promoting resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery in the post-COVID-19 world

The celebration of Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day 2021 emphasized the importance for MSMEs to achieve a resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery in the post-COVID-19 world. The virtual event was joined by ministers, senior officials of UN entities, representatives of business support organizations and entrepreneurs to address barriers, showcase best practices and identify big ideas with MSMEs at the center of achieving the SDGs.

MSMEs: the bedrock of our societies

Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), though insignificant in business scale, have been the most crucial backbone of global economic and social development. They account for 90% of businesses, 60-70% of employment, and 50% of GDP worldwide. The abrupt outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic however, has caused unprecedented damages to the MSMEs, especially those led by women, youth, ethnic minorities and migrants, resulting in numerous bankruptcies, loss of livelihoods and widened inequalities. Albeit the improved global growth prospect in 2021, an uneven recovery trend has been seen. With LDCs struggling with COVID-19 rebounds and vaccine shortages, conditions remain rough for their MSMEs to recover and contribute to achieving SDGs in the long term.

A resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery

To achieve a resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery of MSMEs, measures are needed to not only adapt to the devastating impacts of the pandemic, but also account for the ongoing effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution to ensure utter resilience to future shocks.

From the government perspective, easy access to financial and digital business support systems for MSMEs are essential, these ensure high efficiency in immediate support for MSMEs. Government can also promote digital business solutions through MSMEs programs to facilitate their transition of business models and strengthen their productivity and resilience during such unprecedented time. To ensure inclusive access to digital technologies for all MSMEs, governments should also provide adequate digital infrastructures in both urban and rural areas, filling the gap of the digital divide among MSMEs.

From the entrepreneurs’ perspective, particularly young and female entrepreneurs in the LDCs, technical support, corporate partnerships and flexible business targets are essential elements to sustainable business operations during crises. However, to overcome barriers for women- and youth-led businesses in making more environmental investments, green financing opportunities, incentives and grants are desperately needed to enable their proactive engagements in achieving the SDGs.

From the perspective of business support organizations, emphasis on education, training and women-youth empowerment on digital innovations are key foundations to address the structural constraints of MSMEs in LDCs and reduce productivity gaps among businesses. Through multilateral efforts, it is anticipated that MSMEs can not only survive, but thrive in the post-COVID-19 world with resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery strategies.

References:

https://www.unido.org/events/msmes-key-inclusive-and-sustainable-recovery

Meeting Title: MSMEs: Key to an inclusive and sustainable recovery – Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day 2021

Date/Location: Monday, 28 June 2021; 08:00-11:45; The meeting was held virtually

Speakers:

Mr. Winslow Sargeant, Incoming Chair, ICSB;

Ms. María del Carmen Squeff, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nation;

Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs;

Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre;

Ms. Isabelle Durant, Acting Secretary General, UN Conference on Trade and Development; and many more

Written by: WIT Representative, Iris Sit

A Call for the Collapse of Colonialism: Decolonization in a nutshell

Earlier this month (June 14), a Special Committee meeting was convened virtually to discuss the longstanding issue of decolonization, particularly the question of Gibraltar, Tokelau, and West Sahara. Decolonization appears to be a global trend, yet it continues to bring heated debates onto the international platform. Here is a simple overview of the contemporary view of decolonization.

Colonialism and its Impacts

Modern colonialism emerged in the 15th century when the New World became subjected to Spanish, French, Portugese, and Dutch colonial rule. Colonialism was at its peak before World War I and colonial rivalries contributed significantly to the outbreak of the war. The largest wave of decolonization in history was achieved after the Second World War pursuant to the right to self determination, which was embodied in Article I of the United Nations Charter.

It is widely known that the control by one power over a dependent area or people brings about coercion and forced assimilation. Human rights violations are prevalent. Additionally, colonial powers exploited natural resources of colonies and caused environmental degradation. Indigenous cultural development has been undoubtedly hindered with ethnic suppression. However, one must not shed light only on the downside of the story.

Colonial governments often invested in infrastructure and trade in the local territory, which laid a solid foundation for their future economic growth. To facilitate modernization and suit the needs of the governing countries, access to education was improved and literacy was encouraged. Medical and technological knowledge was also disseminated. We shall not disregard the positive effects of colonialism entirely, but allow a step-by-step decolonization process to ensure smooth transition. We must act responsibly and make sure dependent territories can stand on their own before independence.

Decolonization Today

Today, less than 2 million people live under colonial rule in 17 non-self-governing territories. Among them, diverse attitudes towards administering countries are exhibited. At the Special Committee meeting, Gibraltar and Tokelau both showed appreciation to the developmental support given by their respective administrators, the United Kingdom (UK) and New Zealand. 

However, petitioners from Western Sahara illustrated their disapproval of the Moroccan administration. The human rights of the people in refugee camps are threatened. For instance, underaged detainees have been subjected to indoctrination, forced to attend military training, and sent overseas. Some member states showed support to the petitioners while some stood with Morocco and its autonomy to settle its own territorial dispute.

The contemporary obstacle to decolonization must be tackled at its root cause. The international community shall continue to strive to eliminate colonialism with a realistic, practicable, and enduring political solution based on compromise.

Written by: WIT-UN Intern Tracy Cheng

Reference:

https://dppa.un.org/en/decolonization#:~:text=The%20Department%20of%20Political%20and,whose%20role%20is%20to%20monitor

https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1h/k1htpxppqn

https://world101.cfr.org/historical-context/prelude-global-era/what-colonialism-and-how-did-it-arise

https://www.globalsolutionsforum.org

The Global Solutions Forum, which was organized by the UN Sustainable
Development Solutions Network (SDSN), seeks to gather experts in science,
technology, and public policy to attain the SDGs.
During the second day of the forum four speakers from different regions (Germany, Belgium, Mexico, and the Mediterranean) presented their respective initiatives and projects, which aim to advance the implementation of the SDGs.
In his keynote speech Dr. Jeffrey Sachs highlighted the need for complex,
interdisciplinary, digital solutions, and the importance of good, solution-oriented governance to address the current crises. Subsequently, he explained that quantified targets and a specific timeline, as formulated in the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, are essential to handle these crises and need to be followed by explicit proposals developed by scientist on how to implement these political goals.
Both the projects from Belgium (InSusChem) and the Mediterranean (PRIMA Observatory on Innovation) seek to establish knowledge-sharing platforms to bring together different stakeholders to find solutions and maximize knowledge through cooperation. While the Belgian project focuses on understanding the complexity of CO2 emissions through cooperation of scientists, the project from the Mediterranean strives for innovation in the agri-food industry by bringing together researchers and
farmers.
The Mexican project (Axolots in Xochimilco) concentrates on the preservation of Axolots by generating refuges for Axolotl which are easy to build for local farmers and at the same time increase the water quality, and thus the quality of the crop.
By facilitating the Dialogue of the Scientific Councils in Germany the fourth project offers a solution to the lack of exchange among the numerous Scientific Councils which report to the different German ministries, and play an important role in the German National SDG Implementation Strategy. All solutions were subsequently endorsed and commented on by the participants of the conference.

Meeting: Global Solutions Forum 2020, Day 2
Date/Location: 28th October 2020, 3:30-5pm UTC, online event
Moderator: Ms. María Cortés Puch, Vice President of Networks at UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network

Speakers:
Ms. Vera Meynen, Associate Professor at the University of Antwerp;
Mr. Simone Cresti, University of Siena;
Mr. Luis Zambrano, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México;
Dr. Anne Ellersiek, Research Associate at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik;
Dr. Jeffrey David Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.
Written by: WIT representative Leonie Gahn

COVID-19 AND GLOBAL POLITICS, Political challenges, disinformation and global ethics.

COVID-19 AND GLOBAL POLITICS, Political challenges, disinformation and global ethics. The spread of misinformation has infiltrated our daily lives. False news is on the rise. During this pandemic, how can we think critically and differentiate fact from fiction? What can we do to contain the spread of misinformation? Welcome to Virtual Voices, a series of webinars hosted by the World Information Transfer as part of its constant effort to promote fact-based, science-backed news. 

Join the conversation with H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev. 

This first session will look at:Tensions between global players: how the pandemic has signaled the importance of national defense against health emergencies.Pandemic, disinformation and authoritarianism: the case of Belarus, Hungary, Russia, China and North Korea.COVID-19, the global economy and crime threats: fraud, scams and counterfeit medical supplies.  This online webinar is free and open to the public
  H.E. Yuriy A. Sergeyev.
Former ambassador of Ukraine to France, UNESCO and the United Nations. Senior Fellow of the Department of Political Science at Yale University.
  Moderator: Apurv Gupta.
Apurv is a Strategy Consulting professional at Accenture. He is on the board of World Information Transfer, that advocates for the nexus between health and climate. 
May 22, 2020 12:00-13:00 EST
JOIN MEETING NOW zoom.us
Meeting ID: 81955609790
Password: 861379


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Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth Day

https://www.unsdsn.org/24hour-webinar

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on Earth Day held a webinar on Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day.

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970 by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

The theme of the webinar ‘Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day’ was chosen by the SDSN. According to the World Happiness Report, happiness is a better measure of a nation’s progress than GDP and using social well-being as a goal drives better public policy.

The webinar was split into 6 sessions, and participants discussed how to engage with experts and community leaders on how various sustainable development initiatives across the globe are creating a more just and thriving society and how happiness is still alive amidst a global pandemic.

https://un.by/en/calendar/522-international-mother-earth-day

During the 5th session, participants discussed how Education for Sustainable Development(ESD) relates to happiness, discussed the importance of ESD in the context of COVID-19, and the future of ESD. 

Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of the Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO, said that ESD empowers learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability in a just society for present and future generations. Also, education is a key enabler to prepare this generation and the next to create a sustainable and happier world for all.

Meeting: Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day

Date/Location: April 22th, 2020; 09:00-11:00; Webinar

Speakers: Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network         

Florencia Librizzi, SDG Academy  (Moderator)

Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of the Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO 

Ms. Monika Froehler, CEO of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens

Dr. Oren Pizmony-Levy, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education & Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures, Teachers College, Columbia University

Written By: WIT Representative Sehee OH