Sussex co-hosts international roundtable on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

5 March 2018

An international roundtable discussion organised by Wilton Park in association with Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) and the British Council takes place from 5-7 March 2018. The discussions will focus on building interlinkages among the Sustainable Development Goals in order to help achieve them and IDS Director Professor Melissa Leach will be giving the opening address at the event on Monday 5 March.

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The event aims to provide recommendations to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2018.

In 2015 the United Nations agreed a set of objectives to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Described by Ban Ki Moon as a “blueprint for life on Earth”, the 17 goals set out an agenda to improve the lives of everyone on the planet by 2030.

However, implementation of these goals is particularly challenging because of complex and innumerable connections among them. For example, if the goal to provide energy for all was achieved by burning more fossil fuel, this would negatively impact on the goal to minimise climate change. Or if the food production goal were to be attained through the use of pesticides, this would affect targets for biodiversity and freshwater.

To effectively implement sustainable social, economic and environmental development and move forward with the SDGs, it is vital to understand and act on these interactions.

More than 50 representatives from a wide range of organisations, including the UN, UK government departments, academia and environmental groups, will be looking at six of the 17 SDGs – specifically those pertaining to water, energy, cities, consumption and production, land, and implementation – to understand these interactions.

Professor Jörn Scharlemann, acting Director of SSRP, said: “The broader aim of this roundtable discussion is to find out how science and policy can work together to help identify the most important interactions, and to maximise synergies among goals.

“Coordinated and coherent policy and action on these interlinked issues will increase impact and long-term sustainability of social, economic and environmental development globally.”

Myles Wickstead CBE, Wilton Park Advisory Council and Conference Chair, said: "This event will bring together a community of experts and policy-makers whose special knowledge is vital to help with the implementation of all the SDGs.

"Our specific objectives include summing up current knowledge of these interlinkages, reviewing existing strategies and methods for identifying them and ensuring that these outcomes will inform policy, including at the discussion of the SDGs at the High Level Political Forum at the UN in July 2018."

SSRP, a partnership between the University of Sussex and the Institute of Development Studies, was launched in 2015, with the support of a £3 million investment from the University, to address complex socio-economic, technical and environmental challenges. Through working with academics in the sciences and social sciences and strategic international partners, the SRRP acts as a source of cutting-edge scientific and policy advice for governments, funders, industry and non-governmental organisations.

Wilton Park is a global forum for strategic discussion convening over 60 events a year in the UK and worldwide, bringing together around 3,000 representatives of 130 countries from the worlds of politics, business, academia, diplomacy, civil society, military and the media. They focus on issues of international security, prosperity and justice, and help advance the global foreign policy agenda by provoking lively debate and encouraging inclusivity. Meetings provide a neutral environment which allows participants to express conflicting views openly, promoting understanding across regions, faiths and sectors. Discussions are non-attributable to encourage frank exchanges and open dialogue.

Achieving the SDGs: Building on interlinkages among goals takes place from Monday 5 March until Wednesday 7 March, 2018, at Wilton Park, Steyning.

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