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Australian SDG Summit 2018

15. März 2018 - 23:17

On March 13, 2018, the SDSN Australia/Pacific, in partnership with the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA), and the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA), hosted the country’s second SDG Summit. Nearly 300 representatives of government, civil society, academia, and business gathered to discuss how to unlock the opportunities of the SDGs.

Ron Jones, Wurundjeri Elder, opened the meeting with the Welcome to Country. In a session on cross-sectoral perspectives on the SDGs, UNAA National President Major General Michael G. Smith AO (retired) applauded civil society groups for their rapid adoption and championing of the goals, and called on the government to support the development of a shared national vision and the appropriation of a budget to implement the SDGs. Following Smith, Senator the Honorable Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, highlighted what the Australian government is doing on the SDGs, including a new project on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) to be implemented in 19 countries. The Minister also said that the government’s work to reduce poverty and inequality abroad is a key part of supporting stability in the region.

In a panel on Australian SDG progress, Jason McDonald, Chief Advisor to the Domestic Policy Group in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, shared what Australia is doing to prepare their Voluntary National Review (VNR), which will be presented at the United Nations in July, 2018. Different government agencies have been assigned to each of the 17 SDGs, and the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are facilitating the work overall. John Thwaites, Chair of the SDSN Australia/Pacific, announced a new initiative, the SDG Transforming Australia Project, to track Australia’s progress on the SDGs. Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, said the SDGs were another opportunity to work with Indigenous leaders. Marc Purcell, CEO of ACFID, said that the best way Australia could contribute to global SDG achievement was to be an example of successful implementation at home.

In another panel, GCNA Acting Director Cate Harris highlighted some useful tools for SDG implementation, including Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities and an ACFID Toolkit. Gillian Sparkes, Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, discussed the upcoming 2018 State of the Environment Victoria report, which will look at state-level indicators and a framework for SDG implementation. Susan Mizrahi, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Australia Post, discussed an impressive array of SDG-related projects, including an upcoming SDG stamp series, achievement of wage parity within her organization, the installation of rooftop solar, development of reusable mail packaging with Nespresso, and white papers on how small businesses can be more sustainable and digital inclusion. Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF Australia, presented an interesting solution using blockchain technology to support increased traceability and data collection in the tuna value chain. Gary Oliver, CEO of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, described the challenges faced by Indigenous communities in Australia, and called on non-Aboriginal people to “walk with” them.

In the afternoon, participants divided into breakout sessions. One session looked at how to best communicate the SDGs, exploring different audiences to be engaged, and which arguments will be most effective. A second session explored what “leaving no one behind” meant in the Australian context, with an emphasis on Indigenous communities. The third session explored which SDGs Australia was performing well on, as well as where the greatest progress needed to be made, and aimed to set priorities for SDG implementation.

The day concluded with a high-level segment. Mark Dreyfus QC MP, the Shadow Attorney General, highlighted the importance of SDG 16, saying that corruption, tax evasion, and bribery cost economies trillions of dollars that could be spent on SDG implementation. He also said that violence and the lack of justice in some countries are antithetical to the values of Australians and the aims of the SDGs. Cameron Cross, CEO & Founder of uBegin, announced an online collaborative platform to help conference participants network beyond the event. Finally, John Thwaites and Sam Mostyn, co-chairs of the meeting, took final comments from the floor before closing out the day.

The event was covered by the media, with articles available in Devex and ProBono. For further information about the Summit, see SDSN Australia/Pacific’s website.

Kategorien: english

The challenge of multilingualism in sustainable development education

14. März 2018 - 21:43

Reflections from the SDG Academy on providing free online education in sustainable development

Authors: Jay Neuner and Jessica Scott

Let’s begin with a quick thought exercise: How often do you communicate with someone in a language that is not your mother language (defined as the first language you learned at home) or theirs? Every hour, with work colleagues in different offices? Daily, as someone living in a country that is not your country of origin? Once a week, learning in a globally-accessible online classroom? Twice a year, vacationing outside of your country of residence?

The potential to engage with someone from another country or culture – and often with a different mother language from one’s own – is likely higher now than at any time in history through the advancement of technology. And this has enabled the multilingual communication necessary for sustainable development. Through language we make meaning of and interpret our lives – the classic study of semiotics. Differing meanings and interpretations, when combined with increasing possibilities for global discussion and collaboration across languages (and associated cultures and countries), empower diverse actors across locales, positions of power, and walks of life to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Diverse languages lead to diverse ideas, diverse ideas to diverse solutions, and diverse solutions to achievement of the goals despite geographical boundaries, ideological boundaries, the restrictions of outdated policies, and the ramifications of past practices.

A significant step in advancing sustainable development is education, and particularly education on a global scale; it prompts discussion and collaboration and ensures exposure to varying viewpoints, all significant to evolving behavior and catalyzing change for sustainability.

Yet multilingual accessibility remains a significant hurdle when it comes to global education in sustainable development. As a provider of online educational materials about sustainable development (consisting of videos, downloadable readings, and online platform-based assessments), the SDG Academy – the Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s (SDSN) online education initiative – experiences this hurdle daily as we attempt to reach and engage a truly global audience. For online education in sustainable development – indeed, all online education – to reach its full potential as a global public good, it must embrace multilingualism.

With the technological advances and cross-cultural exchanges we now take for granted, why is multilingualism in online education still so difficult to achieve?

CONTENTSustainable development is inherently complex; the global platform of the SDGs spans 17 goals, each with a collection of associated experts who share neither a common language to learn across disciplines, nor a common mother tongue to teach across communities.

To make content on sustainable development accessible, two types of translation are required. First, we require an interdisciplinary framework – a shared language – to translate across the many disciplines involved in achieving a sustainable future. There is promise in the term “resilience” as a border term, serving the sustainable development goals with this translational capacity.

The second type of translation is more concrete: Content must be accessible across different languages, with each piece of content requiring an expert not only in translation but also subject matter. There also may be culture-specific “translations” that must be accounted for in visual representation, not just spoken or written words – an important but often intractable challenge of multilingualism and multiculturalism.

Primary sources – original research or documentation or reports – are also the priority for many subject matter experts. The “leading voices” on certain issues may have produced these sources – the preeminent texts on an issue – only in their mother language. This content would also need to be wholly translated or replacement primary sources in other languages would need to be identified.

[There is also the issue of language extinction. Local languages and related knowledge are challenged by the passing of older generations, colonization, and other cultural and geographical shifts; this is exacerbated by the dominance of a select few languages, largely Western, in both information technology architecture and global content creation. This is an additional challenge for sustainable development and education.]


Videos, readings in the dozens of pages, platforms (from user interface to orientation, e.g. left-to-right versus right-to-left), live video sessions with faculty or chat support from course staff – these pieces constitute the entire puzzle of a massive open online course. To enable accurate, multilingual engagement, translation (in words, culture, and norms of accessibility) must occur across each. The cost for each element – from filming content in multiple languages, to identifying translators across languages for the content itself, to sourcing a platform that can support multilingual and multicultural technology constraints – can skyrocket for a 10-week course. We need better and increasingly accurate computer-based translation capabilities to take on this task. Even better: partners in this task with existing resources who also believe in this global public good. There is promising work coming out of the European Union to support the former effort, with Emma and TraMOOC as two examples.


With 6,909-plus languages spoken worldwide, content providers may never have the capacity to translate each piece of content in its most up-to-date form into every language. Scale is most often accomplished by identifying most-spoken languages or most in-demand languages for specific subject matter. While this may ensure breadth of global coverage, the highest impact or oft-forgotten cultures and languages may still be barred access.

Education, no matter the topic, is a “skeleton key” for accessibility and opportunity. It provides differing viewpoints and information that can be used to expand our understanding of issues we may not be familiar with or have experienced ourselves. These are, in fact, some of the tenets of sustainable development – openness to emerging ideas and information about sustaining people, planet, and prosperity, as well as changing how we operate to prevent those things from being harmed. While we’re not there yet, the SDG Academy is wholly committed to making online education accessible to all. We look forward to working with the sustainable development community – and all those interested in supporting this cause – to make it happen.

Kategorien: english

Finland Wins Double Gold in World Happiness Report 2018

14. März 2018 - 15:16

ROME, March 14 – This year Finland takes the top spot as the happiest country as measured by surveys undertaken by Gallup International from 2015-2017. Rounding out the rest of the top ten in order of overall happiness are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia. The U.S. ranked 18th, dropping down four spots from last year. In addition, Finland’s immigrants are also the happiest immigrant population in the world, based on the available data from 117 countries.

“Governments are increasingly using indicators of happiness to inform their policy-making decisions,” notes co-editor Jeffrey D. Sachs. “U.S. policymakers should take note. The U.S. happiness ranking is falling, in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse, and untreated depression.”

The World Happiness Report 2018, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants, was released today at a launch event at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican. A subsequent event will occur next week on March 20th, celebrating World Happiness Day at the United Nations.

This report also considers the happiness of immigrants. The report includes four chapters on migration, both internal (within-country) and international (cross-country), investigating the happiness of migrants, their families left behind, and others living in the cities and countries receiving migrants.

“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” said co-editor Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia. All of the top ten countries for overall happiness 2015-2017 are in the top 11 countries for immigrant happiness based on surveys covering 2005-2015. “Although immigrants come from countries with very different levels of happiness, their reported life evaluations converge towards those of other residents in their new countries,” said Helliwell. “Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose,” though the adjustment of happiness is not complete, as migrants still reflect in part the happiness of their birth country.

The report, produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) with the support of the Ernesto Illy Foundation, is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Professor Richard Layard, co-director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Sachs, director of SDSN. Policy applications of happiness research are collected in a companion SDSN publication Global Happiness Policy Report 2018.

The World Happiness Report 2018 includes the following chapters:

  • Happiness and Migration: An Overview, by John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs
  • International Migration and World Happiness, by John Helliwell, Haifang Huang, Shun Wang and Hugh Shiplett
  • Do International Migrants Increase their Happiness and that of their Families, by Migrating? by Martijn Hendricks, Martijn Burger, Julie Ray and Neli Esipova
  • Migration and Happiness in China, by John Knight and Ramani Gunatilaka
  • Happiness and International Migration in Latin America, by Carol Graham and Milena Nikolova
  • Happiness in Latin America has Social Foundations, by Mariano Rojas
  • America’s Health Crisis and the Easterlin Paradox, by Jeffrey Sachs

“Coffee is quite literally the beverage of happiness, something remarkably simple yet complex that brings so much pleasure to so many every day, while creating development in producing countries with every cup. So the idea of supporting a project like The World Happiness Report, and the brilliant work of Professor Sachs and his team, is only natural for illy,” said Andrea Illy, Chairman of illycaffè and Member of the Board of Fondazione Ernesto Illy. “This year’s focus on happiness throughout Latin America means a great deal to us. Two-thirds of our coffee is purchased directly from farmers in Latin American countries, who receive a large premium over market prices for meeting our high quality standards, and whom we educate to help them achieve that quality. This model puts into motion virtuous cycle that enables farmers to invest deeper in quality and land, which creates economic growth that sustains over time, and with it more pleasurable lives for them, and more pleasure in the cup for devotees of our coffee.”

MEDIA INQUIRIES: Kyu Lee,, 646-337-3528

Kategorien: english

Launch of Africa Index consultation!

13. März 2018 - 15:50

(ci-dessous en français)

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the SDG Center for Africa (SDGC/A) are jointly working to develop and publish the Africa SDG Index and Dashboard, building on the flagship SDG Index and Dashboards global report.

Our hope in producing this work is that the indicators and dashboards will help African countries pinpoint key implementation challenges, while the overall index can provide an opportunity to assist countries in benchmarking their SDG performance against their African peers. As such, we have added more Africa-relevant indicators and metrics using data sourced from institutions within and focusing on Africa. The report synthesizes available data on the SDGs from official and unofficial sources and will feature case studies highlighting data and development successes and challenges in four African countries.

We are launching an open consultation on our draft framework, seeking expert input on the proposed indicators for the Africa SDG Index and Dashboard in order to improve the draft proposals, validate thresholds, fill gaps, and consider alternative data sources.

The Excel spreadsheet with the full data, dashboards, and indicator information is here. Please submit your comments and suggestions by Friday, 30 March 2018 via our online form. Please submit all feedback through the form as we are unfortunately not able to accept email submissions.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions at


Le Réseau de solutions de développement durable (SDSN) et le Centre SDG pour l’Afrique (SDGC/A) travaillent conjointement au développement et à la publication de l’Indice et du Tableau de Bord des ODD pour l’Afrique. Ce travail s’appuie sur le rapport global :

Notre espoir est que les indicateurs et les tableaux de bord aideront les pays africains à identifier les principaux défis de mise en œuvre des ODD, tandis que le classement de l’indice peut aider les pays à comparer leurs performances avec leurs homologues africains. En tant que tel, nous avons ajouté plus d’indicateurs pertinents pour l’Afrique en utilisant des données provenant d’institutions africaines et se concentrant sur l’Afrique. Le rapport synthétise les données disponibles sur les ODD provenant de sources officielles et non officielles et présentera des études de cas mettant en évidence les réussites et les défis en matière de données et de développement dans quatre pays africains.

Nous lançons une consultation ouverte sur notre projet de proposition, sollicitant une contribution experte sur les indicateurs proposés afin d’améliorer le cadre provisoire, valider les seuils, combler les lacunes et envisager d’autres sources de données.

Le fichier Excel contenant les données complètes, les tableaux de bord et les informations sur les indicateurs est ici. Veuillez soumettre vos commentaires et suggestions avant le vendredi 30 mars via notre formulaire en ligne. Nous ne sommes malheureusement pas en mesure d’accepter les commentaires par courriel.

N’hésitez pas à nous contacter si vous avez des questions à

Kategorien: english

ENoP and SDSN cooperate in promoting the SDGs in the EU

13. März 2018 - 10:14

Brussels/Paris, February 2018. The European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) have agreed to cooperate in the promotion of the universally applicable Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the European Union. The SDGs have been adopted by all countries in the world and set quantitative targets for 2030 covering economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. The European Union (EU) and its member states have committed to these goals, but they are struggling to align their strategies and budgets with the SDGs. Broad swathes of civil society, business, and politics pursue their narrow agendas without considering the scale and breadth of societal needs, as expressed by the SDGs.

In light of the upcoming events on EU level, including the European elections in 2019 and the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), there will be great opportunities and even necessity to promote the inclusion of the SDGs as an integral part of the political agenda in Europe.

ENoP and SDSN will work with members of their broad networks across the EU and beyond to better communicate the SDGs and engage diverse audiences within the member states of the EU as well as at the European level by related and joint activities. The objective is to combine the spirit of the European integration with the promotion of the SDGs. As a first step, ENoP and SDSN will co-host, together with others, a session at the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development (21 – 23 March 2018 in Bonn) on communicating the SDGs to different European audiences.

ENoP, established in 2006, serves as a communication and dialogue instrument between European political foundations and the institutions of the EU.  It portraits itself as a bridgebuilder between politics and civil society. The network presently counts approx. 45 member foundations from more than 20 countries (within the EU and candidate countries) The members are close to party families represented in the European Parliament, belonging to the democratic spectrum but independent in their decision making and financing of international projects. SDSN, operating since 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General, mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. There are more than 200 SDSN members and several national and regional SDSNs (SDSN Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mediterranean and Northern Europe) active in almost all EU member states.

Kategorien: english

SDSN Newsletter — February 2018

7. März 2018 - 18:12
Welcome to SDSN’s February 2018 Newsletter!

Launch of SDSN Switzerland
Introducing our 25th network, SDSN Switzerland! Co-hosted by The Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Bern and BIOVISION Foundation, SDSN Switzerland focuses on shaping multi-stakeholder dialogue, fostering sustainable development solutions, and advising decision-makers on the implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Global Happiness Policy Report Released! 
A new companion to the World Happiness Report (WHR) was recently released that explores evidence on drivers of happiness. The new Global Happiness Policy Report helps to fill the gap in knowledge on how countries may improve well-being through policy. This is the first output from the Global Happiness Council (GHC) which was formed last year. The Global Happiness Policy Report was presented at the World Government Summit held in Dubai on 10 February, 2018.

SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean Launching  
Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) are jointly establishing an SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean, to be housed at Uniandes in Bogotá.

Join SDSN’s March 2018 Happiness Campaign! 
Every year, #InternationalDayofHappiness falls on the 20th of March inviting the world to gather and celebrate each other’s personal and collective happiness. This year SDSN is launching its first global campaign, asking our network to take action and help spread the word about the World Happiness Report and the SDGs.

Upcoming SDG Academy Courses on Sustainable Agriculture and Cities 
Interested in the sustainability of food and agriculture systems? Dive deep into the workings of these systems in the Mediterranean region in Sustainable Food Systems: A Mediterranean Perspective, launching March 12. And coming up April 2: a relaunch of student-favorite Sustainable Cities, covering urban development and its intersection with sustainability.

SDSN in the Media

Amina J. MohammedA call to action: improving women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health in the Muslim world, The Lancet – January 31, 2018

James Hansen et al.The climate-smart village approach: framework of an integrative strategy for scaling up adaptation options in agriculture, Ecology and Society – February 2018.

Mari Pangestu and Shiro Armstrong: Asian economic integration: The state of play, Australian National University – February 2018

James Hansen et al.Climate risk management and rural poverty reduction, Agricultural Systems – February 1, 2018

Johan Rockström, Katherine Richardson et al.Planetary Boundaries: Separating Fact from Fiction. A Response to Montoya et al., Trends in Ecology and Evolution – February 6, 2018

Patricia Espinosa: “This Moment is your Moment” – Patricia Espinosa to Global Youth, UN Climate Change – February 8, 2018

Jeffrey SachsThe World Bank Needs to Return to Its Mission, Project Syndicate – February 9, 2018

Martin VisbeckOcean science research is key for a sustainable future, Nature Communications – February 15, 2018

Guido Schmidt-TraubPromoting Innovation: Lessons from the Global Fund, Development Matters – February 15, 2018

James Hansen et al.Farming with crops and rocks to address global climate, food and soil security, Nature Plants – February 19, 2018

Jeffrey SachsTrump’s War Psyche and World Peace, Project Syndicate – February 23, 2018

Upcoming SDSN Events

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Latin America
2 March | Bogota, Colombia

IPCC Cities and Climate Change Conference
5-7 March | Edmonton, Canada

The World in 2050 Meeting
6-7 March | Vienna, Austria

Launch of the 2018 World Happiness Report
14 March | Vatican City

UN Launch of the 2018 World Happiness Report
20 March | New York City, USA

Global Festival of Action
21-23 March | Bonn, Germany

5th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development
28-30 March | Bangkok, Thailand

World Happiness Festival
31 March – 1 April | Jakarta, Indonesia

View full list of events

Other News and Events
  • SDSN is hiring an Associate for our new initiative: Private Giving Initiative for the SDGs based out of the New York office.
  • SDSN South Asia hosted a meeting to discuss how to localize the SDGsthrough collaboration in this diverse region.
  • SDSN and the Master’s of Development Practice have published the Call for Abstracts for ICSD 2018! Kindly submit before the May 1 deadline.
  • On 20 April, CCSI, host of SDSN’s Thematic Network on Good Governance of Extractive and Land Resources, together with the Land Portal Foundation and the Cadasta Foundation, will host a Webinar entitled Her Land Her Story.
  • On the final day of the World Urban Forum, SDSN Malaysia launched a new publication “Towards Achieving Sustainable Cities and Communities.”
  • The new SDSN Hong Kong network, which launched earlier this year, has just published their website to showcase the efforts they will soon undertake.
  • The Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities Guide developed by SDSN Australia/Pacific is now available in Japanese and Spanish.
  • SDSN Great Lakes launched its new public lecture series with a talk at the University of Rwanda by Professor François Naramabuye entitled “Customizing the SDGs to Rwanda’s Development Priorities.”
  • SDSN has partnered with the CCSI, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, and Equitable Origin to create a mapping document for the energy sector that traces the points of intersection between renewable energy and the SDGs.
  • The SDSN Youth SDG Coordinator application period has opened. Coordinators work with local SDSN networks to ensure that all students in their schools are aware of the SDGs and positioned to take action.
  • SDSN Amazon’s Summer School is a 21-day intensive program focused on building capacities to understand, reflect on, and take action in the field of sustainable development. Deadline for applications is 1 April.
  • H. E. Bambang Brodjonegoro, Minister of National Development Planning of Indonesia, discussed SDSN Southeast Asia’s SDG Happiness Pyramid at the 2018 World Government Summit.
  • The Spanish Parliament passed a resolution that calls on the government to use the SDG Index and Dashboards to establish a baseline analysis of Spain’s SDG implementation gaps.
  • SDSN Mediterranean Chair, Angelo Riccaboni, launched a call for proposals for an integrated program on food systems and water resources for Euro-Mediterranean societies called PRIMA.
  • SDSN Director Jeffrey Sachs hosted Robert Lustig, MD at Columbia University to discuss the focus of Dr. Lustig’s latest publication, The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains.
  • SDSN Leadership Council Member James Hansen spoke at the Nordic Business Forum on “Energy, Climate, and Policy – Risks and Opportunities.”
  • Patricia Espinosa, Executive Director of UN Climate Change and SDSN Leadership Council Member, gave optimistic remarks on CO2 emissions in an interview (in German).
Kategorien: english

Apply Now to Join the Amazon Summer School!

7. März 2018 - 17:38

SDSN Amazonia and the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) are again offering the Amazon Summer School, a 21-day practical course to cultivate global sustainability leaders. The program will be held in the community of Tumbira, located in the Rio Negro Reserve in the north of Brazil. The course leverages experiential learning experiences in the Amazon to transform people, organizations, and relationships. The course will run from July 11th to July 31st.

The Amazon Summer School believes a multiplicity of worldviews and practical knowledge is needed to address the complexity of our growing global opportunities and challenges. The program brings together participants from different countries, sectors, backgrounds, fields of work, and areas of study to realize this goal.  Applications will be accepted until April 1st, 2018. 

For those interested in applying, the main requirement is to be fluent in English and over 18 years of age. The selection process involves analysis of the application and a round of online interviews with top candidates. The final group of 20 participants, allowing for lots of one-on-one attention, will be formed by 1st May. The 2016 edition received more than 600 applications from 61 different countries. “The selection process is a key step to guarantee the richness of the program. Besides learning from teachers, nature, and community, the participants learn from each other through a rich learning interaction. The more we are able to bring together people with similar intentions and complementary worldviews, more power can be the change in their lives and in their work”, says Raquel Luna, the course learning coordinator.

The 21-day program fee of US $3,700 includes all meals, transport within Brazil, lodging, and materials, as well as fair wages for the community which hosts participants. For more information and to submit an application, please visit

Kategorien: english

A Vision for SDSN Canada Materializes at CitiesIPCC Conference

6. März 2018 - 16:02

The Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo has been chosen as the Canadian host of The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

SDSN Canada is part of a global SDSN movement to build a network of universities, research centers, civil society organizations, and knowledge institutions. With over 700 participating institutions worldwide, SDSN members work together, to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

As a host of the SDSN, the University of Waterloo will use its position as home to Canada’s largest Faculty of Environment to share knowledge, activate research and help solve the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world. The SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society, thus opening up exciting new opportunities of collaboration for Waterloo.

What the SDSN Canada will do?

  • Build an on-going pan-Canadian network of post-secondary institutions, civil society, and others, to facilitate learning and accelerate problem solving for sustainable development
  • Link Canadian experts to the global SDSN and to global discussions on a universal agenda for sustainable development
  • Organize national/sub-national sustainable development meetings bringing together key actors to identify and promote regional solutions initiatives
  • Foster debate on sustainable development within Canadian academia and society more broadly
  • Conduct action-oriented research that helps Canada adopt and implement policies and practices that provide international leadership in sustainability
  • Develop and continually improve educational programming for sustainable development

A key component of Waterloo’s involvement in the SDSN comes from its partnership with Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI), a non-profit partnership between Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics and University of Waterloo.

The official launch of SDSN Canada will take place, May 7th to 8th, 2018, at the University of Waterloo, and feature a talk with  Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the SDSN.

For more information contact:

Jon Beale

SDSN Canada Manager
University of Waterloo
519-888-4567, ext. 37667

Kategorien: english

Achieving the SDGs in South Asia

3. März 2018 - 19:42

South Asia is home to nearly forty percent of the world population, yet accounts for less than ten percent of world GDP[1]. It is home to several paradoxes- amongst the highest economic growth rates in the world coexist with the high rates of poverty, malnutrition, and mortality. Some of the world’s most dynamic economies are in this region; rapid urbanization, and rising economic opportunities have combined to put pressure on terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Further, the region is expected to bear some of the most devastating consequences of climate change-drought, changing patterns of rainfall and increasing frequency of extreme weather patterns which are particularly critical for a region where the majority of the population depends on rain-fed agriculture for survival. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are critical to the region as they embody the challenges of the region, and their success depends on the question of how best the SDG framework can help address these complex, interrelated issues.[2]

This was precisely the question raised at the meeting of SDSN South Asia on 17 February, 2018. SDSN South Asia is hosted by The Energy and Research Institute (TERI), and was established in July 2014 to bring together academic and policy institutions from the region to focus on the SDGs. The meeting participants included several SDSN members, as well as policy makers and thought leaders in the sustainable development space from the region. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director-General, TERI, and addressed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director, SDSN, who framed the central question: How can South Asia achieve the SDGs?

Participants agreed that regional cooperation on the big questions of energy transitions, water management, and biodiversity conservation will be critical- notwithstanding the geopolitical compulsions specific to the region. At the sub-national level however there is already a policy momentum amongst state and provincial governments for SDG based planning and monitoring. Universities in the region have typically not systematically supported governments; but there was a widespread recognition that university-government linkages are both important and long overdue. Several participants stressed the need to embed the SDGs in local contexts, and communicate their purpose locally to build regional and ultimately national momentum for the SDGs.

Finally there was a recognition that universities are critical in strengthening the capacity of governments and civil society to monitor progress on the SDGs, and to hold governments accountable. Possible collaborations on flagship government programs such as Smart Cities (in India) with local universities could open the space for such support. The meeting ended with an agreement to codify some of the large SDG challenges discussed in the meeting, and to prepare a one year action plan in anticipation of annual regional convening of SDSN members.

Participants included, among others, SDSN Leadership Council members Dr. K Srinath Reddy and Jeffrey Sachs, participants from SDSN and TERI, SDSN members from Nepal, India, Pakistan (Amrita University, Charities Aid Foundation, Center for Environment Education, Kathmandu University, LEAD Pakistan, the Red Elephant Foundation, and COSAN, Nepal) and heads of economic policy think-tanks in India (Dr. Rathin Roy, NIPFP, Ms. Yamini Aiyar, Center for Policy Research).


[1] PPP, current US$, World Development Indicators, World Bank 2016

[2] . See how countries of South Asia compare to the rest of world on progress towards the SDGs here.

Kategorien: english

Hacking of the American Mind: A Lecture with Dr. Robert Lustig

3. März 2018 - 0:26

On Thursday afternoon, February 26, 2018. Professor Sachs hosted Robert Lustig, MD at Buell Hall on the Columbia University campus to discuss the focus of Dr. Lustig’s latest publication, The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains.

Health, in its simplest terms, requires a diet of whole foods, but the United States food industry is overwhelming filled with processed food & beverage options that fail to provide nutrition and instead contribute to chronic metabolic disease. Within the 2017 SDG Index itself, The United States ranks sixth in terms obesity prevalence, 33.7% of the adult population being obese.

In the developed world’s realm of health, Dr. Lustig presumes sugar is the cause of our diet-related diseases. The results of a study performed at Touro University and UC San Francisco found that removing any food products containing fructose from a child’s diet for nine days resulted in an over 20% decrease in liver fat. This type of diet links high sugar consumption to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and in turn to Type 2 Diabetes.

Dr. Lustig’s lecture explained the basic, biological needs and cravings of the human body; sugar being a source of energy, that when being digested, releases dopamine and creates an addiction to the pleasure caused by this substance. The health trends show just how detrimental to our health our evolving modern diets are, and all the while specialinterest groups have funded research that inaccurately represents the influence of their food and beverage products.

When we talk about diet, it is appropriate to bring up mental health as well. A healthy body helps to maintain a person’s happiness. When chasing another sugar high, Dr. Lustig insists that we are pursuing pleasure – a momentary joy, that in the case of sugar or other stimulants can build an addiction. With the International Day of Happiness approaching in March, this is no time to take pleasure over the pursuit of happiness. The achievement of the SDGs requires countries like the United States to advocate for their citizen’s health, with SDGs 2 and 3 as their guide, and to facilitate every individual’s happiness.




Kategorien: english

SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean to be launched at Universidad de los Andes in partnership with SDSN

2. März 2018 - 13:30

Bogota, 2 March 2018: Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) are jointly developing an SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean, to be housed at Uniandes in Bogotá. The SDG Center LAC, established with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Santo Domingo family, will be the first of its kind in Latin America and is envisaged to be a regional hub for SDG-related research and professional training, and related public policy activity.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed to globally in 2015 as a framework for action and accountability to guide progress on sustainable development through 2030. The center will focus on the most pressing sustainable development challenges of the region and their diverse social, economic, environmental, political and cultural dimensions and its interlinkages. In order to address these pressing issues, the Center will concentrate on strategies to achieve SDGs which present particularly urgent challenges in the region: SDG 4 (Education); SDG 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure); SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities); SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities); SDG 13 (Climate Action); SDG 14 (Life on Land); and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions).

The SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean will host activities relating to policy analysis and research programs for integrated sustainable development. The Center will leverage the resources of the University, tab into the IDB’s expertise of the region and use SDSN’s global network to create, adapt, and disseminate analytical tools for SDG policy planning and implementation in the region. This Center is one of three such centers globally, including the SDG Center for Africa launched in 2016 and the SDG Center for Southeast Asia launched in 2017.

The formal announcement of the partnership to establish the Center took place at Universidad de los Andes on March 2nd. Rector Pablo Navas of Uniandes hosted Jeffrey Sachs, director of SDSN and members of Uniandes to announce the start of operations.

“The SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean will convene experts from around the region and the world, representing not only academia but also governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations, to help achieve the ambitious 2030 agenda,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of SDSN. “SDSN is proud to partner with Uniandes to establish such a vital institution for the region.”

“Uniandes is a world-class institution with remarkable researchers and students who are committed to achieving the SDGs,” remarked Rector Pablo Navas of Uniandes. “This Center will foster new opportunities to bring our standard for excellence to new research, education and policy with partners across Colombia and our region around our common goals.”

The operations of the newly announced Center are in line with the IDB’s work in these sectors and its commitment to working with partners to advance the SDGs. President Luis Alberto Moreno of the IDB remarked, “It is critical that all actors, including the private sector and academic institutions, come together with governments and civil society groups to create pathways to achieve the SDGs. I am proud that the Inter-American Development Bank is collaborating with Uniandes and SDSN to establish this Center as a platform for creating novel strategies to drive sustainable development across the Americas.”

Alejandro Santo Domingo, a leading philanthropist, will Chair the International Board of the Center, continuing the long-standing commitment of the Santo Domingo family to UNIANDES’ search for excellence. Mr. Santo Domingo highlighted that this new endeavor comes as UNIANDES marks its 70th anniversary as a vital center of learning in Colombia and will serve to solidify the University’s regional and global leadership.

The SDG Center for the Latin American and Caribbean region

The four specific priorities of the SDG Center will be:

  • To promote the SDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean, using interdisciplinary research and policy to bring together local universities, businesses, government and civil society.
  • To design and lead a research agenda related to education, innovation, infrastructure, inequality, sustainable cities, climate action, biodiversity and peace.
  • To train the next generation of leaders in sustainable development from the region by offering high-quality courses and executive training programs to reach students, professionals, government officials and policy leaders.
  • To serve as a convening hub on issues and initiatives related to SDG 16 especially for knowledge sharing and solutions on the continuum of prevention, conflict resolution and reconciliation, peacekeeping, sustaining peace and advancing sustainable development.


About the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN)

The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) operates under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to mobilize leaders from academia, business, civil society, and other development organizations to promote problem solving and practical solutions for the pressing challenges of sustainable development. Following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the SDSN is committed to supporting the implementation of the SDGs at local, national, and global scales. The SDSN aims to accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world.

About Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes)

The establishment of the SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean is led inside the Universidad de los Andes by the School of Management and School of Economics, in participation with other academic units, including the School of Law, the School of Government and the Interdisciplinary Center for Development (CIDER).

Universidad de los Andes was founded in 1948, and it was the first private university in Colombia that was independent from political or religious movements or parties. It was conceived as a study center, a research center, and a place where truth could be upheld. Ever since the university was founded, its activities have focused on excellence, and this is affirmed in the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP). It is currently the only private university in the country that has been awarded a ten-year institutional accreditation for quality by the National Ministry of Education through Resolution 582 of January 9th 2015. Universidad de los Andes . Moreover, the Faculty of Management has the prestigious “Triple Crown”, which consists of three accreditations (EQUIS, AMBA, and AACSB); this is only held by 1% of business schools around the world. Additionally, eight undergraduate programs in the Faculty of Engineering have the International ABET accreditation.

About the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

The Inter-American Development Bank is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Besides loans, grants and guarantees, the IDB conducts cutting-edge research to offer innovative and sustainable solutions to our region’s most pressing challenges. Founded in 1959 to help accelerate progress in its developing member countries, the IDB continues to work every day to improve lives.

Kategorien: english

Join SDSN for a Month of Happiness!

27. Februar 2018 - 21:40

Every year, International Happiness Day falls on the 20th of March, inviting the world to gather and celebrate any and all things that evoke personal and collective happiness. This year, SDSN is inviting our Global Network of practitioners, experts, and sustainable development enthusiasts  to take action in honor of International Happiness Day!

Over the past several years, the World Happiness Report (WHR) has continually demonstrated just how linked happiness is to sustainable development. All six of the key indicators used to calculate the ranking in the report can be directly linked to one of the 169 indicators in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Thanks to reports such as the WHR, highlighting the often forgotten measures of global prosperity, a shift in attitudes in underway. Today, the international community is more aware than ever of the importance and benefit of factoring in personal and communal well-being as part of international development and good governance. You can read more about policies to increase social well-being in the Global Happiness Council’s first Global Happiness Policy Report (2018).

We can all understand and prescribe to the desire for a happier and more cooperative world in which communities thrive in a sustainable way. One thing the report has shown is that people find happiness when they work together to achieve a common goal.  By inviting discussions about social well-being into the policy work around SDGs, we reconnect with the initial intention behind the Goals which is to cultivate inclusive and equitable societies for all.

To build on this linkage and continue to spread awareness for and support of the SDGs, SDSN is inviting our networks and followers to highlight the importance of ‘Happiness Work’ in the pursuit of long-lasting sustainable development.

“Happiness is only real when shared!“

-Into the wild (film)

We hope that you will join us celebrating happiness this March by participating in any of the activities outlined below. Be sure to share your happy posts with us on Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtag #HappySDSN or by tagging us @UNSDSN, we would be thrilled to spread your happiness further!

  • Write a blog post on your country’s position in the World Happiness Report to be shared with your network and community
  • Use the SDG Pyramid to mobilize your members or online community to foster discussions and take action around the SDGs
  • Pledge HERE to create more happiness in the world
  • Video interview your friends and colleagues: Ask them “what makes you happy?” and then write or post on how this connects to the SDGs
  • Host a roundtable discussion: Bring your peers together to discuss the intersection between happiness and sustainable development, and explore how to enhance social well-being in your country, city or community and take steps towards creating an action plan. Please share your best ideas with us on social media!
  • Share the Global Happiness Council Policy Report with your local or national decisions makers.
  • Post some of these social media Ideas:
    • #HappinessSoundsLike – Share music that makes you happy (2015 UN Social Media Campaign)
    • #HappyActs – Encourage colleagues, friends and family to share positive messages or moments of gratitude on social media
    • #HappyHeros – Highlight a person who brings happiness to you and others
    • #HappyQuotes – Line up positive quotations to be shared throughout the month of march
    • #HappyTimes – Video a short gif of doing something that makes you happy
    • Other Happy Hashtags – #InternationalDayOfHappiness, #March4Happiness, #HappinessDay, #MakeItHappy, #HappyPlanet #SDGPyramid

If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to and

Kategorien: english

Mapping Renewables to the Sustainable Development Goals

27. Februar 2018 - 21:16

Cross-posted from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment’s website

The renewable energy industry is instrumental to the success of the SDGs. Renewable energy is core to the implementation of SDG 7 (access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy) and SDG 13 (urgent action to combat climate change). New developments in renewable energy — solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal, among others — are necessary to replace fossil fuels in the global energy system, and can also bring modern, affordable energy to the near 1.1 billion around the world who lack access to electricity. Access to clean energy is also an essential prerequisite to achieve many of the other SDGs.

However, renewable energy projects have at times undermined the achievement of the SDGs and adversely affected human rights. Local communities confront some of the most prominent negative impacts, including economic and physical displacement, harm to livelihoods, and violations of indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC).

Given the urgency and scale at which renewables must be deployed to meet the world’s climate goals, it is especially critical that we understand their potential impacts — both positive and negative — on each SDG, to ensure that renewable energy driven development does not come at the expense of other development goals.

SDSN has partnered with the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, and Equitable Origin to create a shared understanding of how the renewable energy sector can most effectively contribute to the SDGs. The product of this collaboration will be a mapping document for the industry that traces the many points of intersection between renewable energy and the SDGs, including ways in which the renewable sector can contribute toward the realization of the SDGs, the risks renewable energy operations can pose for sustainable development and the realization of human rights, and the implications of the SDGs for the industry’s future operations. Building on the success of our earlier mapping project, Mapping Mining to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas, special attention will be paid to the interconnections of the human rights framework with the SDGs.

A draft report will be made public for consultation in September 2018.

Kategorien: english

Global Climate Research Agenda to be Announced at CitiesIPCC Conference

26. Februar 2018 - 15:50

On March 5-7, the City of Edmonton will host the first-of-its-kind CitiesIPCC Cities and Climate Change Science Conference, where scientists, policymakers, researchers, and development experts will gather to advance global understanding of climate change, its impacts on cities, and the critical role localities play in solving this challenge. The conference will be marked by the establishment of a global research agenda, which will support a new special report on climate change and cities prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The agenda will also create a blueprint for new scientific research supporting effective climate action strategies in cities around the world.

Co-sponsored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the conference will assess the current state of academic and practice-based understanding of cities and climate change, identifying key knowledge gaps to inspire new research in this area. By forging stronger partnerships among the more than 750 leaders, innovators, and influencers attending, the conference will lay a solid foundation for increased global collaboration on scientific research, funding, and knowledge-sharing.

“Climate change is a uniquely global challenge; it doesn’t discriminate based on geography, and so we see its effects in every corner of the world,” said IPCC Co-Chair Dr. Debra Roberts. “Our response must also be global, uniting people across cities, countries and continents. That enables us to share best practices based in sound science to meet global commitments that will create a more sustainable and just urban world for future generations.”

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and as centres of both high population density and economic activity, cities around the world are highly vulnerable to the most dangerous and damaging impacts of climate change. For these same reasons, however, cities are fighting back, as the scale of ongoing urban expansion creates more impetus for meaningful cooperation and the ability to pursue more ambitious climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. The conference will highlight the crucial role that cities are currently playing and will continue to play in the fight to stop global climate change.

“Cities are already leading the charge to combat climate change and Edmonton is proud to stand side by side with the other cities around the world taking courageous action,” said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. “With the majority of the world’s population living in urban centres, we need to strive to make cities even healthier and more sustainable to live in and tackling climate change is part of the solution. Edmonton is thrilled to host this conference and be part of an exciting opportunity to work together with the scientific community and develop innovative solutions that will transform our cities for the better.”

In recent years, the United Nations has championed global cooperation and ambitious programs such as the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. As it does so, the important role of rigorous, peer-reviewed science as a foundation for planning and implementation has come into sharp focus. In their work to meet these commitments, cities have become incubators of innovative, science-based solutions to global climate change.

“Cutting-edge scientific research is essential to solving global climate change, and cities are where that science gets translated into action oriented policy,” said Seth Schultz, C40 Cities’ Director of Science and Innovation and Co-Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee overseeing the conference. “Though rapid urbanization continues to exacerbate the effects of climate change, cities also represent an opportunity that will allow us to tackle climate change at a transformational scale. An ambitious global research agenda on cities and climate science is a critical step in ensuring that we generate knowledge at the speed and scale with which cities need to take action while simultaneously making our cities better places to live.”

The three-day conference, organized by a Scientific Steering Committee made up of engineering, science, humanities, and urban development experts, will focus on four major themes:

  • Cities and Climate Change – Global commitments like the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development goals, New Urban Agenda, and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction require cities to implement new sustainable development plans to adapt and respond to climate change. This theme will explore gaps in knowledge of climate mitigation and adaptation in the context of meeting these global commitments, including the costs of climate action/inaction, equity and justice issues related to climate change, and the imperative for actions resulting in low-carbon, climate-resilient, sustainable development.
  • Urban Emissions, Impacts, and Vulnerabilities – Cities are some of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, and as such, experience some of the worst effects of climate change. This theme will explore current and future urban emission drivers, urban climate impacts, and climate risks and vulnerabilities to provide science-based pathways for cities to pursue emissions reductions and resilience strategies.
  • Solutions for the Transition to Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Cities –  With the advent of advanced technological and scientific solutions to climate change, this session will explore the transformative nature of cutting-edge sustainable development strategies. The theme will include discussions about disruptive technology, urban infrastructure and design, and institutional innovation.
  • Enabling Transformative Climate Action in Cities – City climate action takes place in the context of diverse social, environmental, economic, and developmental realities. This theme will explore new and existing avenues for enabling climate action that addresses poverty and inequality, re-shapes power relations, and re-conceptualizes our vision of what cities are, could be, and should be.

In addition to the IPCC, the other CitiesIPCC partner organizations providing practical support to the Cities and Climate Change Science conference are C40 Cities, Cities Alliance, Future Earth, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment ), UN-Habitat, and World Climate Research Program (WCRP).


Original post:


Kategorien: english

Spanish Parliament uses SDG Index and Dashboards as National Reference Point

23. Februar 2018 - 18:21

In December 2017, the Congress of Spain adopted a resolution that calls on the government to define a national strategy in which the policies are aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The resolution recalled the government’s commitment to giving a first progress report on the 17 sustainable development goals during the High-Level Political Forum in 2018. The Parliamentary Commission of International Cooperation for Development, which introduced the resolution, calls for urgently establishing a baseline analysis of Spain’s SDG implementation gaps in order to define priorities for the national strategy. To this end, the official text highlights the usefulness of the SDG Index and Dashboards as an analytical tool for understanding Spain’s major policy challenges. The SDG Index and Dashboards highlight climate action, the economy, and sustainable consumption and production as areas needing significant attention from the Spanish government, as shown below.

Above: National Dashboard for Spain, from SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2017 

The Commission also executed an earlier resolution calling for a High-Level Government Group for Agenda 2030 to create an administrative institution especially tasked with meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. The current resolution calls for the High-Level group to elaborate policy objectives by continuing close cooperation between the Spanish Government and the national SDSN for Spain, the Red Española para el Desarrollo Sostenible (REDS). The Congress also commended the organizations who have met with the Commission of International Cooperation for Development to help define a strategy for Agenda 2030, notably including REDS.

REDS was officially launched in Madrid in 2015 and is chaired by the former Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos. Hosted by the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, REDS  promotes practical solutions for sustainable development and fosters debate on SDG implementation in academia, politics and civil society. Recently, the network signed an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation to push for more dedicated action towards Agenda 2030 achievement in Spain.

Learn more about the SDSN Spain here:

Kategorien: english

Launch of SDSN Switzerland: A place where society, science and politics met to create solutions

21. Februar 2018 - 17:57

SDSN is proud to announce the launch of its 25th network! SDSN Switzerland, co-hosted by The Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Bern and BIOVISION Foundation, joins the SDSN with a view to shape multi stakeholder dialogue, foster sustainable development solutions, and advise decision-makers on the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement. SDSN Switzerland officially launched on February 15th with a full-day conference under the banner “Where Society, Science and Politics Create Solutions.” The network already boasts 19 members from key institutions around Switzerland who are committed to the localization of the SDGs.

Conference to Launch SDSN Switzerland

From left to right: Urs Wiesmann, Co-Chair of SDSN Switzerland; Katrin Muff, Conference Facilitator; Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse Foundation; Jacques Dubochet, University of Lausanne; Océane Dayer, Co-Chair of SDSN Switzerland; Michael Bergöö, Acting Managing Director of SDSN Switzerland. © Peter Lüthi, Biovision.

Influential actors in the world of sustainable development participated in the event, which featured keynote speeches from Bertrand Piccard, the first person to fly around the world in a solar plane (Solar Impulse), and Nobel laureate Professor Jacques Dubochet.

The program had elements of a traditional conference structure, with keynote speeches and panel discussions, but also incorporated unique breakout session formats with the aim of planting the seeds for sustainable solutions in Switzerland.

Morning Plenary

After a welcome from the network chairs, SDSN’s Executive Director, Dr. Guido Schmidt-Traub, highlighted Switzerland’s important role in advancing the international agenda. In particular, he highlighted that while Switzerland is advancing on many of the SDGs, the 2017 SDG Index and Dashboards Report illustrates that Switzerland has a long way to go to address its global responsibilities in terms of negative spillover effects in other countries.

Dr. Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director of SDSN. Photo: © Peter Lüthi, Biovision.

Bertrand Piccard followed, sharing his vision for Switzerland and demonstrating, through his experience flying around the world in Solar Impulse, that the potential of renewable energy today is only limited by our imaginations. Piccard also announced his new initiative, World Alliance for Sustainable Solutions which aims to support clean, efficient technologies, whilst also enhancing the global economy through job creation.  

Breakout Sessions

In Part II of the conference, entitled “Stories for a Sustainable World,” participants were invited to join one of nine breakout sessions to explore what conditions are needed to develop meaningful, sustainable solutions for Switzerland and beyond.

“Collective Story Harvesting” group: Defining Research Agendas. Photo: © Peter Lüthi, Biovision.

The breakout sessions adopted an innovative methodology, “Collective Story Harvesting,” wherein participants were told a compelling story around the theme of the session and acted as “Wisdom Catchers” who analyze prescribed aspects of the story and share insights with the group.  In the second half of the breakout sessions, “from learning to insight to action,” participants were called to gather into small groups and, using “World Café” methodology, work together to converge the wisdom from the stories and transform them into solutions.

Afternoon Plenary

In the afternoon plenary panel discussion, “Switzerland’s opportunities and responsibilities for a sustainable world,” Barbara Kux, member of the board of directors of Firmenich, Group Engie Henkel, and Pargesa Holding, emphasized that the technology exists to dramatically reduce global CO2 levels. She put forth that, despite common perception, industry and environment are becoming increasingly compatible and that the most successful companies are those who merge the importance of shareholder values with social values, calling it the “Three P’s: People, Planet and Profit.” She stressed that to accelerate the adoption of this kind of strategy will require not only the appropriate financial and institutional frameworks, but also sincere enthusiasm from all those involved.

Teresa Ribera, SDSN Leadership Council member and Director of IDDRI (The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations), outlined the lessons she’s learned from her experience promoting sustainable development, highlighting her most important considerations. She closed her speech by reminding the audience and discussants that we must aim to repair the broken intergenerational contract with young people.

Lastly, Klaus Leisinger from the Global Values Alliance emphasized that the 2030 Agenda, is by and large, about societal reform, which requires a political framework to set the right incentives and allow all social actors to contribute. He stressed the role of the media and other institutions in raising awareness of sustainable development and leveraging reputational capital to shed light on good company practices and decry harmful ones.

The panel discussion was followed by a powerful keynote from Professor Jacques Dubochet, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry (2017), highlighting the unique relationship between biology, knowledge, and society. Using an example of international scientific investigation into viruses, he demonstrated that truly meaningful progress is incremental and requires collective efforts spanning generations. In so doing, he reminded the participants that we must not undermine the humble results from today’s efforts, as they will become revolutionary successes tomorrow.


To close the event, selected participants from the nine breakout sessions provided short summaries of the sustainable solutions they discussed. Many of the conclusions centered around the need to challenge existing status quos, enhance transparency, and promote positive messages that express common values around the 2030 Agenda. Several groups highlighted that achieving the goals in Switzerland will require enhanced transparency and cooperation, which could be facilitated by SDSN Switzerland moving forward. Many of the conclusions also suggested the development of experimental communication platforms that could be used to bring different stakeholders together around the Goals. The summary of the breakout sessions was followed by a closing address from the Chairs and a surprise artistic performance by students from Bern University of the Arts.

The success and relevance of the conference was underpinned by the network’s commitment to represent a range of stakeholders that could put sustainable solutions to the test both intellectually and in practice. To this point, many attendees highlighted the effort undertaken to ensure that the conference was representative of many different stakeholders, as well as being both intergenerational and gender balanced. The breakout sessions helped kick-start the network to gauge local attitudes around sustainable development in Switzerland and take an initial step toward developing local sustainable solutions for Switzerland. Although Switzerland and the rest of the world have a long way to go towards achieving the Goals, SDSN is confident that SDSN Switzerland will be a key player in achieving the 2030 Agenda in Switzerland and beyond.

Media Round Up

New Swiss development network to tackle UN goalsSwiss Info, February 15

Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Switzerland Launch ConferenceIISD Reporting Services, February 15

We must exploit the huge potential for sustainable solutions nowSDSN Switzerland Media Release, February 16

SDSN Switzerland Launches, Identifying SDG CatalystsIISD SDG Knowledge Hub, February 20

Additional Materials:

SDSN Switzerland Launch Conference Program

SDSN Switzerland Factsheet [EN] [GR] [FR]

SDSN Switzerland Discussion Paper [EN] [GR] [FR]

More about SDSN Switzerland on their website:

Kategorien: english

Promoting Innovation: Lessons from the Global Fund

15. Februar 2018 - 17:00

Originally published: OECD Development Matters:

Since its inception in 2001, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has become a highly respected pooled financing institution that scores top marks in independent reviews.1, 2

It has disbursed some USD 40 billion in grants for complex disease control and treatment programmes in fragile and non-fragile countries alike.

Success was far from assured in 2001, as developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, faced a perfect storm of surging HIV/AIDS, multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and surging malaria deaths. Control and treatment interventions were available in high-income countries, but no one knew how to tackle the diseases in resource-poor settings. In particular, HIV/AIDS treatment was deemed impossible in Africa and was outside recommended approaches for tackling the disease.3

The Global Fund was designed precisely to tackle the lack of quality programmes and implementation mechanisms in developing countries. All too often, however, it is seen as just another funding mechanism. Many reviews lump it together with other multilateral mechanisms and trust funds.4

This is a mistake. The Global Fund has unique design principles that set it apart from bi- and multilateral financing mechanisms with the notable exception of Gavi.5

These design principles have been at the heart of the health sector’s success in innovating new technologies, treatment models and management systems for controlling the three diseases, and in propagating the lessons to all countries. So we should think of the Global Fund as an enabler of innovation and rapid learning in four ways.

First, countries were invited to submit large-scale funding proposals for review by the Global Fund’s Technical Review Panel (TRP) comprising independent experts. The TRP only judged the technical soundness of proposals and their compliance with medical best practice. It did not consider the politics of the requesting countries or the volume of funding requested. The Board of the Global Fund could only approve or reject all TRP recommendations in toto. This removed the politics of considering proposals from individual countries and ensured the technical integrity of the independent review process.

Remarkably, the TRP rejected China’s two initial applications for HIV/AIDS funding because the proposals did not include harm reduction, as recommended in the technical literature. China protested, but then changed its approach to managing the disease, before receiving large-scale funding from the Global Fund, which helped reverse the course of the disease.6, 7

It is highly unlikely that other funders without independent technical reviews would have outright rejected a technically deficient proposal from such a large country.

After each Global Fund round, countries whose proposals had been rejected would study successful proposals and incorporate lessons. Since there was no limit on how much funding a country could request, finance ministers took note and worked with health ministries to address governance or operational challenges. After each round, the TRP briefed technical partners of the Global Fund, such as WHO, UNAIDS and Roll-Back Malaria, on lessons from the proposals. These technical partners then supported countries in addressing weaknesses and incorporating innovations from other countries.

The second way in which the Global Fund has fostered innovation is through its ability and willingness to disburse funds directly to government departments, local and international civil society organisations, international organisations, or the private sector. In countries where governments are weak, civil society organisations may operate national-scale programmes, such as the multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis programme in Somalia. Civil society organisations also run outreach programmes targeting marginalised populations that might be difficult or impossible for government institutions to undertake. This competition between different disbursement channels lowers costs and fosters innovation in programme design and implementation.

Third, the Global Fund has been working closely with businesses to harness innovation and ensure well-functioning markets. Its demand forecasts for malaria bednets and other commodities, for instance, reduce uncertainty and enabled businesses to invest in product development and production. This, in turn, generated rapid cost reductions for major commodities.8, 9

Fourth, the Global Fund supports systematic implementation research and independent evaluations of its operations and programmes. The independent Office of the Inspector General can initiate reviews and inspections of any aspect of the Fund’s work. These reports are made public and have uncovered weaknesses in programmes supported by the Fund. They have also documented best practice and helped inform WHO treatment guidelines. In this way, Global Fund programmes helped reach a consensus on the free or highly subsidised distribution of malaria bednets10 or improvements in AIDS treatment guidelines.11

Thanks to these four drivers of innovation resulting from the Global Fund’s unique design principles, virtually every country, including low-income and fragile states, now has functioning control and treatment programmes for the three diseases. This is a complete reversal from the situation in 2001 when no developing country had such programmes in place. Some of the mainstream tools for fighting the diseases were not known or widely available in 2001, and their development and widespread adoption were enabled by the Global Fund’s grant model, which continuously pushed the boundaries of clinical and public health best practices.

The design principles of the Global Fund can be applied to other investment challenges under the Sustainable Development Goals, such as education, access to basic infrastructure or smallholder farming. Yet, in my experience, they are largely unknown outside the health community, and no multilateral pooled financing mechanisms apply the four drivers of innovation that have fueled rapid progress under the Millennium Development Goals. In view of the large funding needs for Agenda 2030 and the pressure on aid budgets, it’s high time to accelerate innovation and learning outside health. This should start with studying and applying lessons from the Global Fund and Gavi.


1. DFID. Raising the standard: the Multilateral Development Review 2016. (Department for International Development, 2016).

2. PublishWhatYouFund. Aid Transparency Index 2016. (PublishWhatYouFund, 2016).

3. Binswanger, H. P. Scaling up HIV/AIDS programs to national coverage. Science 288, 2173–2176 (2000).

4. OECD. Multilateral Aid 2015. Better Partnerships for a Post-2015 World. (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2015).

5. Sachs, J. D. & Schmidt-Traub, G. Global Fund lessons for Sustainable Development Goals. Science 356, 32–33 (2017).

6. Wang, R.-B. et al. Transition from control to elimination: impact of the 10-year global fund project on malaria control and elimination in China. Adv. Parasitol. 86, 289–318 (2014).

7. Minghui, R., Scano, F., Sozi, C. & Schwartländer, B. The Global Fund in China: success beyond the numbers.Lancet Glob. Health 3, e75–e77 (2015).

8. Zelman, B., Kiszewski, A., Cotter, C. & Liu, J. Costs of eliminating malaria and the impact of the Global Fund in 34 countries. PloS One 9, e115714 (2014).

9. Stover, J. et al. Long-term costs and health impact of continued Global Fund support for antiretroviral therapy.PLoS One 6, e21048 (2011).

10. WHO. Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria. (World Health Organization, 2010).

11. WHO. Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection: recommendations for a public health approach. (World Health Organization, 2016).

Kategorien: english

Global Happiness Policy Report 2018

12. Februar 2018 - 17:41

 The first volume of the Global Happiness Policy Report contains the first endeavors by the Global Happiness Council, chaired by the SDSN’s Jeffrey Sachs, to assemble best practices for happiness policy. A companion to the World Happiness Report (WHR) – reporting the who and why countries are happy – the Global Happiness Policy Report helps to fill the gap on the how to help countries in well-being with the science of happiness and policy applications. The policy report was presented at World Government Summit held in Dubai on February 10, 2018.

Following a stage-setting introduction and an overall synthesis by Professor John Helliwell, the policy report delivers findings from six expert teams. Professor Helliwell highlights that “this report is a distillation of ideas and experiments all over the world”. The six theme chapters fall naturally into two groups of three chapters each. Chapters in the first group focus on best practices for happiness policies within the context of a national or sub-national government—namely, health, education, and employment. Chapters in the second group each address cross-cutting issues that are likely of interest to multiple ministries and to the center of government: personal happiness, cities, and measurement. Examples follow from each of the six theme chapters.

The report includes the following chapters:

  • Good Governance in the 21st Century by Jeffrey Sachs
  • Global Happiness Policy Synthesis 2018 by John Helliwell
  • Mental Illness Destroys Happiness and Is Costless To Treat by Richard Layard
  • Positive Education by Martin Seligman and Alejandro Alder
  • Work and Well-being: A Global Perspective by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve
  • Social Well-Being: Research and Policy by Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener
  • Happy Cities in a Smart World by Aisha Bin Bishr
  • Countries’ Experiences with Well-being and Happiness Metrics by Martine Durand

This year’s health chapter focuses on mental illness, since it is one of the main causes of misery worldwide. Chapter author, Richard Layard highlights, “that good treatments exist, enabling happier and more useful lives at a negative net cost.”

The education chapter emphasizes positive education. In schools, teaching positive psychology has radically improved the happiness of pupils in countries as various as Peru, China, Bhutan, and Australia.

Good jobs are central parts of happy lives. Many examples show that increasing staff engagement increases job satisfaction and reduces costly job turnover.

“For communities, the crucial issue is the structure of social connectedness” said chapter author, Robert Biswas-Diener. Connectedness and trust create happier communities free from isolation and loneliness.

Jeffrey Sachs highlights that “people are rich, but they are not happy”. The cities chapter explores best practices on effective combinations of economy, mobility, environment and social connections to understand happiness in cities and urban environments.

To make human happiness the overall guide to human progress requires good data on the quality of human lives, something still lagging in the framework of national statistics in most countries. Better data in turn enables improved understanding of what makes for happier lives, and better ways of choosing among the policy options.

Much can be done within families, firms and schools. But much larger gains can flow from collaboration across the range of government, supported by central commitment that enables and rewards cooperative efforts to convert aspirations to happier lives. An appendix to the volume summarizes more than 100 of the policy ideas surveyed in this report. Converting the best of these ideas into reality needs the support of an action plan – practical guides for implementation, one of the objectives for Global Happiness Report 2019.

Please send all media inquiries to 

To view video excerpts from the report launch, please visit:

Kategorien: english

SDSN Newsletter — January 2018

1. Februar 2018 - 17:20
Welcome to SDSN’s January 2018 Newsletter!

Introducing SDSN Hong Kong: a New Network, a New Voice, a New Year 
The SDSN is extending its reach with the launch of our newest network, SDSN Hong Kong, co-hosted by The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The network was officially launched on 8 January at CUHK.

US Mayors Inspiring Local Change with Global SDGs 

Photo Credit: WeWork

On 26 January, SDSN and the Global Development Incubator convened a high-level side event at the Winter Meeting of the US Conference of Mayors, in partnership with the City of New Orleans and Mayor Dyer of Orlando. Participants discussed how the SDGs can promote sustainable development in cities across America.

New Frontiers in Education for the Implementation of the SDGs: The Blended Learning Program at Sunway University, Malaysia 

The Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University, Malaysia has paired up with SDG Academy to create a Blended Learning Program combining  the Academy’s expert-led online syllabus with in-person classroom instruction, tailored to the national context of Malaysia.

SDG Academy Course ‘Natural Resources for Sustainable Development’ – now in both English & Arabic 

Student-favorite SDG Academy course Natural Resources in Sustainable Development is relaunching 5 February – and is now fully available in Arabic, as well as English! The course includes new content on good governance, corruption, the environment, and more. Video transcripts are also available in Spanish, French, and Russian.

Micro Grants to Share Your Knowledge 

The Local Data Action Solutions Initiative will provide a limited number of micro grants as part of its objective to promote sound, replicable, technical methods for sub-national SDG monitoring that facilitate local action in support of the “Leave No One Behind” principle that is part of Agenda 2030. The deadline is 19 February. You can apply here.


SDSN in the Media

Alexei Kudrin and Vladimir MauThe Principles and Goals of the Russian State in the Twenty-First Century, In: Studin I. (eds) Russia. Palgrave Macmillan, London – 31 December, 2017

Obersteiner et al.: How to spend a dwindling greenhouse gas budget, Nature Climate Change – 2 January, 2018

Guido Schmidt-Traub: The role of the Technical Review Panel of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: an analysis of grant recommendations, Health Policy and Planning – 4 January, 2018

Jeffrey Sachs: A bold bid for climate justice, CNN – 11 January, 2018

Oliver Milman: ‘A really big deal’: New York City’s fossil fuel divestment could spur global shift, The Guardian – 11 January, 2018

Jeffrey Sachs: The West’s Broken Promises on Education Aid, Project Syndicate – 17 January, 2018

Gordon G. Liu: Urbanization and Social Welfare in China,  Routledge – 18 January, 2018

Upcoming SDSN Events

SDG Conference “Knowledge for Our Common Future”
8-9 February | Bergen, Norway

From Knowledge to Action: 3rd German Future Earth Summit
8-9 February | Berlin, Germany

2018 Winter Youth Assembly
14-16 February | New York, USA

Launch of SDSN Switzerland
15 February | Berne, Switzerland

19-20 February | Athens, Greece

Hacking of the American Mind: A Discussion with Dr. Lustig
22 February | New York, USA

View full list of events

Other News and Events
  • SDSN Germany Co-chair, Dirk Messner, discussed international spillover effects of national actions in this blog.
  • The SDSN Thematic Network on Good Governance of Extractives and Land Resources blog series continued on the land portal’s online library. DFID’s Chris Penrose Buckley contributed this month.
  • SDSN Leadership Council member Paul Polman wrote about how The Food and Land Use (FOLU) Coalition may fix a broken food system with help from partners like Unilever.
  • The SDG Center for Africa announced plans for a sub-regional center for West Africa to be hosted in Liberia
  • SDSN Youth Philippines have published their report from the 2017 Youth Solutions Forum.
  • SDG Academy announced a new course on Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace, launching March 1. Discover how to make natural resources a reason for cooperation rather than conflict in this course.
  • Belay Begashaw, the Director General of the SDG Center for Africa, was named one of the co-chairs of the “Cooperation with Africa Task Force” for the T20 in Argentina this year.
  • SDSN Italia hosted the 1st Global Conference on “Reporting for Results-based REDD+ Actions.”
  • SDSN member Gaia Education, in partnership with UNESCO GAP, reached 1,000 people with their SDGs Flashcards and associated Training.
  • SDSN partner WBCSD released a report on corporate renewable power purchase agreements in Argentina.
  • The Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice Programs (MDP) requested abstract submission for the Education for Sustainable Development Report. Apply by March 15.
  • SDSN, with Pratham Education Foundation and the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS)co-hosted a public lecture in New Delhi by Leadership Council member, Prof. Hirokazu Yoshikawa on Investing in Early Childhood Care: A Foundation for A Sustainable Future.
  • SDSN Leadership Council member Johan Rockström was named new co-chair of Future Earth Advisory Committee at the Stockholm Resilience Center.
  • Upmanu Lall, SDSN Leadership Council member, was recognized as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.
  • Hirokazu Yoshikawa, SDSN Leadership Council member, is named 2018 Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Kategorien: english

New Frontiers in Education for the Implementation of the SDGs: The Blended Learning Program at Sunway University, Malaysia

30. Januar 2018 - 18:30

By Cara Kennedy-Cuomo

The world is made up of fragile ecosystem upon which all life on Earth depends. Once natural tipping points, or planetary boundaries, have been breached within these crucial natural systems, society risks “irreversible and abrupt environmental change”(Steffen et al. 2015).  The term planetary boundaries was first coined in 2009 by a cohort of scientists led by Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Will Steffen from the Australian National University. According to them, the Earth has already surpassed four of the nine boundaries.

To enhance awareness of planetary boundaries, the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University, Malaysia, paired up with the SDG Academy, a free online education platform offering graduate-level courses related to sustainable development. The result was a Blended Learning Program that combined the SDG Academy’s expert-led online syllabus with in-person classroom instruction tailored specifically to the national context of Malaysia. The Blended Learning Program educated participants about the global environmental consequences of their everyday life choices, to encourage more conscientious decision-making.

The course was developed with a dual objective. First, to familiarize participants with the concept of planetary boundaries and second, to encourage practical application of the knowledge gained in the course. One case study that was featured demonstrated how human-led deforestation has created a positive feedback loop resulting in an increased occurrence of forest fires in the peat swamp forests of northern Selangor, Malaysia. Thanks to concerted efforts, reforestation initiatives are slowly raising the water table and restoring the swamp forest as a natural carbon sink. Participants were also invited to present case studies from their own individual life experiences, and to consider how they actively address sustainable development. One participant recorded the number of times she was able to refuse plastic by carrying her own reusable water bottle, plate, and cutlery. As a result, the participant was able to roughly calculate her reduced carbon footprint.

Later in the course, participants were introduced to several analytical thinking tools, including stakeholder mapping, issue trees, and DPSIR (driving forces, pressures, states, impacts, responses) models. The 15 participants ultimately applied these tools to three main projects, all designed to be implemented within the Sunway community. Many of the participants were Sunway University administrators, professors, students, and Sunway Corporation officers, allowing the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders in the three projects.

The three final projects focused on efficiency and accessibility to public transportation (SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities), food and plastic waste (SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production), and the energy-efficient design of buildings (SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy). To improve local transport efficiency in Sunway, one group proposed changes to the city’s bus routes. In addition, to enhance the safety and increase accessibility for pedestrians, the group also indicated where to build new sidewalks and zebra crossings. Another group proposed changes to the Sunway cafeteria and food vendor policy to reduce both food waste and plasticware consumption. Drawing inspiration from a new building under development in Sunway, the third group drafted a design proposal on how to enhance the building’s energy efficiency.

As a result of the course, participants were able to gain a greater understanding of the concept of sustainable development, planetary boundaries, and how to transpose this knowledge into a local context.  As the first edition of the Blended Learning Program, the experience offered an opportunity for facilitators to establish a proven methodology for future iterations. With its unique application of adaptable education tools and materials, the course proved to be a valuable learning experience for both participants and facilitators, as well as an interesting model to study and replicate in knowledge institutions worldwide.

Kategorien: english