Experts Consider the Role of the Science–Policy Interface for Implementing the 2030 Agenda


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  • 2016•08•01     New York

    On 20 July 2016, the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) organized an official side event on The Role of the Science–Policy Interface for the National Implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2016) in New York.

    The session, which was moderated by Dr. Robert Lindner (UNU-IAS), brought together scholars working on global governance and the UN system to share their perspectives and insights based on ongoing research projects. Prof. Norichika Kanie (UNU-IAS and Keio University) opened the event by introducing the report Building Blocks for the Institutional Architecture of the SDGs Science–Policy Interface, which was recently published by UNU-IAS.  The new report sets out five building blocks — or models — for the science–policy interface to effectively implement the 2030 Agenda. The report offers suggestions for a practicable science–policy interface to increase policy-relevant academic input into the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), which aims to inform HLPF deliberations and examine evidence-based policy options, taking into account economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

    Following Prof. Kanie’s presentation, the other three speakers reflected on their research against the backdrop of the recent proposals discussed at the HLPF. Prof. Peter M. Haas (University of Massachusetts Amherst) elaborated in detail on the opportunities and limitations of scientific panels, and stressed that the complexity of the 2030 Agenda requires a new form of an orchestrating expert panel. Prof. Laszlo Pinter (International Institute for Sustainable Development and Central European University) emphasized that statistical reporting on the implementation progress alone is not enough, and pointed out that such reporting must be complemented by an integrated assessment in order to understand the complex dynamics shaping the delivery of the SDGs. Prof. Pamela Chasek (Manhattan College) presented on a workable model for the proposed Independent Group of Scientists for the GSDR and its task team, taking into account lessons learned from previous experiences with science–policy interactions and knowledge management in and outside the UN system.

    The final panel discussion was opened to questions from the floor and saw a lively debate between the experts and the audience, which included a number of delegates from UN Member States, representatives of UN entities, and stakeholder groups. The discussion emphasized in particular the necessity to avoid creating an interface that places greater importance on the process than on the product. A possible way forward would be to include outside experts in the process to bring in new ideas and to broaden the ownership of the agenda.

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    This event was organized as part of the UNU-IAS Governance for Sustainable Development project’s activities.

  • The Role of the Science–Policy Interface for the National Implementation of the 2030 Agenda

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