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Harnessing scientific evidence and decision-making to accelerate progress on the SDGs

This statement summarizes insights from the inaugural Science Day, which brought together scientists to help accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It calls for strengthening the science-policy interface and creating a “global transformation road map” to address interwoven crises.

At the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with progress largely stalled and even backsliding in many countries, the world must adopt a new approach and focus to move forward. This necessitates centering the role of science to identify and act on key transformation points and pathways to accelerate SDG progress. It also requires strengthening the science-policy interface to translate existing scientific evidence into actionable knowledge and insights, inform policymaking, and steer action towards desired outcomes.

With this in mind, nearly 150 experts from academia, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the scientific community, and the UN system met in an unprecedented forum held at the UN Headquarters in parallel with this year’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). This first-ever Science Day was established with two aims: to help ensure that the acceleration of SDG implementation over the next seven years is as evidence-based, strategic, and effective as possible; and to produce insights that will inform the 2023 SDG Summit and 2024 Summit of the Future.

Harnessing scientific evidence and decision-making to accelerate progress on the SDGs

The statement is available in the following languages:

The SDG Summit Political Declaration (July 2023) highlights that Member States intend to increase the use of science and scientific evidence in policy-making. To ensure that science is central to decision-making processes, Member States should incorporate concrete commitments that leverage scientific expertise to accelerate implementation of the SDGs through, for example, building their capacity in knowledge generation, evidence synthesis, and translation of science into actionable knowledge for policymakers.

To guide these efforts, the International Science Council (ISC), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) present the following recommendations and a call to action – informed by the Science Day participants and members of the Independent Group of Scientists of the 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) who participated in the event – to support Member States and decision makers in using science to accelerate sustainable development.

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