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Science Driving Transformation: the 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report

On 17 July 2023, the Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 (GSDR) was presented to Member States at the opening of the high-level segment of the High Level Political Forum 2023 with a Fireside Chat featuring GSDR scientists chaired by ISC Chief Executive Officer Salvatore Aricò.

The High Level Political Forum event asked critical questions exploring the role of scientific evidence in guiding decision-makers towards effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda with an eye on transformative actions. As the world grapples with multiple crises, and the achievement of SDGs seems increasingly challenging, the event delved into the opportunities and challenges of strengthening the science-policy interface.

“The 2023 GSDR identifies requirements for transformation, and science itself is undertaking its own transformation to support SDG implementation”

Salvatore Aricò, Chief Executive Officer of the ISC.

Watch the recording of the Fireside Chat here.

Salvatore Aricò at the podium in the United Nations General Assembly Hall

The Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 serves as an urgent call to embrace transformative changes required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and secure a better future for the planet, its inhabitants, and ecosystems. Despite some advancements, the report acknowledges that challenges like the ongoing pandemic, economic distress, and environmental crises have severely disrupted progress towards the SDGs over the past three years.

The report stresses addressing security aspects such as geopolitics, energy, climate, water, food, and social security to expedite progress. It provides examples and tools for transformative shifts across sectors, offering a framework to understand the transformation process and the role of different levers over time. It advocates generating knowledge inclusively and integrating it into decision-making processes. The six chapters cover SDG progress, future projections, essential interventions, a strategic action framework, the unifying role of science, and a compelling call for transformative efforts driven by science.

The International Science Council led the scientific review of the Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 at the invitation of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). During the review, which took place in late 2022, the ISC worked with a diverse group of 104 reviewers who provided valuable input on the draft report.

To facilitate this comprehensive review process, the Council assembled a multidisciplinary working group comprising 16 experts whose role it was to advise the ISC Secretariat, thoroughly review the complete draft GSDR report, and synthesize the feedback from the numerous reviewers. The Council’s involvement and expertise in this scientific review further enriched the report, strengthening its credibility and ensuring that it represents a holistic and well-informed perspective on the challenges and opportunities towards achieving the SDGs.

The GSDR 2023, as well as the role of the ISC in engaging the wider scientific community in its development, and the prominent role of science throughout this year’s HLPF 2023 with the session on science, technology and innovation discussing a science-driven recovery on 10 July, the inaugural HLPF Science Day on 15 July, the ISC Fellow Statement on rescuing and integrating the Global Agenda, and the launch of the ISC Global Commission’s report Flipping the Science Model on 17 July, build momentum to strengthen science in the multilateral system as a key tool for global collaboration and for decision-making on global challenges.

Image by Anda Popovici, ISC.

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