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Spring meeting 2019 – BECC MERGE jointly on the Sustainable Development Goals

During 7-8 of May, 80 researchers within BECC and MERGE met to learn about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and how their research can be linked, and contribute, to the implementation of the goals.
sdg

We are just as far from reaching the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) as Burkina Faso. We just have different challenges.

This is one of many terse quotes delivered by Katherine Richardson, professor at the University of Copenhagen and co-chair of SDSN Northern Europe, during her presentation in Gothenburg 7-8 May. The meeting was organized in collaboration with Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development, GMV and the overall theme was the SDGs. Around 80 researchers from BECC and MERGE, participated to learn more about how their research can contribute to the implementation of the goals, and how BECC and MERGE stakeholders are adapting to the new development agenda.

The first speaker to enter the stage was Jan Pettersson, director of Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development, a researcher within MERGE. Jan presented some of the many projects and networks hosted by GMV that are actively working with the SDGs. A key message from Jan was that researchers need to be better at linking their research to solutions through interactions with different stakeholders, and that we need improve the inter- and multidiscipline work needed to tackle the challenges ahead.

chicken

Although Katherine Richardson claimed that she “hates solutions”, Jan´s speech resounded well with her overall message of the importance of bringing the goals together and understanding the interactions between them. She argued persuasively that we need to find the sweet spots where synergies are exploited at the same time as negative impacts are minimized.

The SDG:s can be seen as a vision of how we are going to share our limited resources, she suggested.

Stephan Sitch, professor at the University of Exeter, complemented Katherine’s speech from a climate science and modelling perspective, and how that work can be linked to the goals. He gave some concrete examples of models that try to understand the wider application of how climate change and different climate change efforts can impact on water use and land use. Moreover, he mentioned IPCCs 1.5 degree report as an example where the authors are trying to link climate models to the SDGs.

To make 1.5 degrees, we need to do something radical in the next 5 years. 2 degrees, we have a few decades. But what if we don't make either of those?
Stephen Sitch shares his results.

flooding

Ingrid Peterson, director general of Formas and Chair of the Swedish Delegation for the Agenda 2030 talked about the lack of direction for Agenda 2030 on the national level and the need for a broad parliament decision with long term commitments. She also stressed how Formas as a funding agency are working to adapt to the challenges of reaching the goals.

We need more research on transformative change and we need to look through the reward-incentive system she said.

The final keynote Måns Nilsson, executive director at Stockholm Environment Institute, SEI, presented some of the tools that they have developed to contribute to the implementation. Together with the International Council for Science they have developed a SDG interaction framework that maps the interactions between the goals. He also presented a spin-off of the methodology, the Agenda 2030 compass, which now is being further developed in collaboration with industry, with funding from Vinnova.

Network analysis can show which SDGs and sectors most benefit from collaboration (eg climate and tourism) and who to negotiate with, set investment priorities, develop learning, but plenty of challenges and political sensitivity he said

Apart for the keynotes, Paul Miller (MERGE), Johan Ekroos (BECC)and Cecilia Akselsson (BECC) delivered speed talks that presented examples of how research within BECC and MERGE is being linked to the SDGs.

During the last day of the meeting, four thematic sessions were held. Participants were able to actively engage in the discussions about how they can contribute to the implementation of the SDGs on a local, regional, national and international level.

Henrik Smith (BECC) and Birgitta Svenningson (MERGE) wrapped up the meeting by delivering some take home messages. One of them was that research programs such as BECC and MERGE has both an opportunity and a responsibility to work with the SDGs as well as to critically evaluate them.

 

Text modified from Caroline Pettersson, GMV

 

Here you may find available presentations, all presentations were recorded and will be available here soon

 

Moderator in discussion with Fredrika Lagergren Wahlin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, responsible for issues regarding outreach and cooperation at University of Gothenburg

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