Science and Climate feature at the High Level Political Forum

The ISC and partners attended the inaugural Science Day at the High Level Political Forum, as well as the Fourth Global Climate and SDG Synergy Conference, with "transformations" and "mission science" being the key themes for both events.

First-ever Science Day at HLPF Aims to Inform SDG Summit, Summit of the Future

Scientists, representatives from civil society and academia, and national government and intergovernmental decision makers discussed “scientific findings, methodologies, and tools that can help support evidence-based decision making for the SDGs” during the inaugural Science Day at HLPF.

Science Day convened on the margins of the July session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Participants discussed potential strategies to ensure the acceleration of SDG implementation in an as evidence-based, strategic, and effective a manner as possible. The Day’s outcomes will shape a call to action for HLPF 2023 and the SDG Summit, and inform the Summit of the Future in 2024.

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), UN Development Programme (UNDP), International Science Council (ISC), Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) organized the event.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the meeting notes that Science Day brought together some 120 scientists, representatives from civil society and academia, and national government and intergovernmental decision makers to “discuss scientific findings, methodologies, and tools that can help support evidence-based decision making for the SDGs.”

UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Csaba Kőrösi stressed the need to create national transformation strategies based on the SDGs. He drew attention to the Group of Friends on Science for Action, created by Belgium, India, and South Africa, which, he said, “has given momentum to the role of science in shaping decisions.”

“Many speakers highlighted that SDG implementation is too slow and lamented that science was not at the heart of the SDGs when they were created,” ENB reports. Participants underscored “the need to consider how science synthesizers, networks, and bridge builders can be engaged in the science-policy interface, and how trust in science can be rebuilt.”

Participants considered examples of how “the SDGs have provided a framework for understanding issues and pursuing transformation in a more holistic way.” Several called for “mission-driven science” or a “big science approach,” where “political objectives are matched with actions, institutions, capabilities, and resources to effectively achieve them.”

Based on the Day’s discussions, ENB highlights, the organizers will develop a call to action, which will be made available on the official website of the SDG Summit as the position paper by the Scientific and Technological Community Major Group. The Day’s insights will also support the 2024 Summit of the Future.

Science Day convened on 15 July 2023 at UN Headquarters in New York, US. ENB Coverage of Science Day: Evidence-based Strategies for SDG Acceleration

Fourth Global Climate and SDG Synergy Conference

The International Science Council actively participated in the Fourth Global Climate and SDG Synergy Conference, organized by UNDESA and UNFCCC. This conference provided a platform to review the progress made in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their interconnectedness with climate action.

During the opening of the conference, H.E. Csaba Kőrösi, the President of the 77th UN General Assembly, made a compelling statement: “Transformation is happening anyway. But it makes a huge difference whether we are masters or victims of the transformation. Let us act boldly and use one of the weapons we have for this battle: synergies.”

📺Watch the recording of the morning session.

Key findings and insights from the work of the Expert Group on Climate and SDG synergies were discussed by influential speakers, including Luis Gomez Echeverri from the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), a partner organization of the ISC, and Diana Ȕrge-Vorsatz, Director of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy and Member of the ISC-UNEP Foresight Expert Panel. The Expert Group presented a framework for action to enable decision-makers to navigate the complex interdependencies between society, technology, economy, and the environment.

Luis Gomez Echeverri expressed concern about the wide gap between scientific evidence and practical policy action. “We find that there is a significant disconnect between scientific evidence and applied policy action. We need more skilled practitioners to adopt systems thinking and renewed governance, as well as institutional arrangements that encourage collaboration.”, stressed Luis Gomez Echeverri.

The International Science Council also contributed to the afternoon Parallel Session titled “A just, equitable and net-zero transition – how to get it right?”. ISC Fellow Nebojsa “Naki” Nakicenovic, a Member of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors of the European Commission, presented the ISC Fellow statement for the HLPF 2023 “Rescuing and integrating the Global Agenda: Harnessing Science and Technology more effectively”. Nakicenovic underscored the vital role of science, technology, and innovation in driving integration, transformation, and action in order to capitalize and improve on SDG synergies.

📺Watch the recording of the afternoon parallel session.

“The world’s political, scientific, and civil society communities must intensify their efforts to strengthen the science-policy-society interface. It is crucial to consider local realities and needs and ensure that decision-making at all levels is rigorously informed by evidence-based insights”, expressed Nebojsa Nakicenovic.

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