SDG Interactions, gender, science-policy interface: ICSU at the High Level Political Forum

This year’s High Level Political Forum at the United Nations was the first-ever in-depth review of selected Sustainable Development Goals: poverty, food and agriculture, health, gender, oceans, resilient infrastructure, and means of implementation.



The meeting, which takes place July 10-19 under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), involves the first state-led reviews of progress on the goals and more than 40 countries presenting their national voluntary reviews.

The Council convened a side event on July 12 to present its latest report, launched earlier this year: “Guide to SDG Interactions: From Science to Implementation”.

Moderated by ICSU’s Executive Director, Heide Hackmann, the panel comprised Claudia Ringler, Deputy Division Director of the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) Environment and Production Technology Division, David McCollum, Research Scholar Energy Program IIASA and Diana Nova, SDGs Coordinator of the SDGs Working Group at the National Administrative Department for Statistics, Government of Colombia.
After a presentation of the report’s methodology, discussion focused on how to apply the framework. Could it, for instance, be used for monitoring and review? Bill Sonntag from the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) noted that his organization had found the report useful for their work on health and land cover, as well as to better allocate resources. Some participants noted that the report skews more qualitative than quantitative, and it was acknowledged that this was intended to broaden the scope of the work to different audiences. Next steps in terms of how to take the work to the national and local levels were discussed.

On July 13, ICSU Executive Director Heide Hackmann was an invited speaker in a panel on advancing science, technology and innovation for the SDGs. Hackmann, who is also co-chair of the 10-Member Group of High-Level Representatives in Support of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, highlighted the need for enhanced collaboration within the scientific community, new forms of engagement with policy and public action and stepped-up efforts on the potential of big data and machine learning.

The Scientific and Technological Community – co-organized by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) – delivered a statement on July 14 calling for an inclusive definition of “science” and for more engagement of early career scientists. Earlier in the week, ICSU’s Head of Science Programmes Lucilla Spini also delivered a statement highlighting the role of science and technology in fostering gender equality.

ICSU was also a co-organizer of “Food and Agriculture Day” which included high-level speakers such as the President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson.

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