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GMV hosted research meeting about the Sustainable Development Goals

News: May 16, 2019

On 7-8 of May, 80 researchers engaged with biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate modelling 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.

”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, at a joint meeting between the strategic research areas BECC and MERGE* 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, mainly from the Universities of Gothenburg and Lund, 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, and an active 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.

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.

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 an spin-off of the methodology, the Agenda 2030 compass, which now is being further developed in collaboration with industry, with funding from Vinnova.

Apart for the keynotes, individual researchers connected to either BECC or MERGE delivered speed talks that presented examples of how research within the networks is being linked to the SDGs. Moreover, a Q&A- session was held with Fredrika Lagergren Wallin, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for issues regarding outreach and cooperation at the University of Gothenburg.
Many researchers raised the challenges of using time for engaging with the outside society, which Fredrika also acknowledged.
”We really need to do something about the outreach question, and to start valuating these efforts. I believe something IS changing”, she claimed.

During the last day of the conference, four thematic sessions were held where researchers got 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.

*BECC (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate) and MERGE (ModElling the Regional and Global Earth system) are two strategic research areas coordinated by the University of Lund with the University of Gothenburg as a partner university. MERGE also has the Linnaeus University, Chalmers, KTH and SMHI as additional partners.


Originally published on: www.gmv.gu.se

Page Manager: Allison Perrigo|Last update: 10/5/2018

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Utskriftsdatum: 2019-12-13