Highlights: UNU-IAS at the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2020

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  • 2020•07•21     New York

    UN Photo/Manuel Elias

    During 7–16 July 2020, UNU-IAS advanced global policy dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The HLPF is the main United Nations platform on sustainable development, with a central role in the follow-up and review of the SDGs. The 2020 meeting took place online, under the theme “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”.

    Organising a series of side events, UNU-IAS contributed expertise across the SDGs and showcased its research and networks in higher education, biodiversity, governance, resilience, and climate change.

    Through these contributions UNU-IAS emphasised the need for renewed efforts at all levels to achieve the SDGs, while the globe faces a “new normal” in living with COVID-19. We must take an integrated approach in “building back better” to create more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive societies. This will require a deep shift in mindsets and behaviours, as part of the broader transformation towards sustainability. The academic and science communities will play a central role by informing evidence-based policymaking and instilling the values, knowledge, and understanding of sustainability in future generations through education.

    UNU-IAS is advancing these efforts through policy-oriented research and education, mobilising its networks including the Promotion of Sustainability in Education and Research Network (ProSPER.Net) and the Satoyama Initiative. As part of the global UNU system — comprising 14 institutes in 12 countries — UNU-IAS is addressing the interconnected impacts of COVID-19 and informing policy solutions for the SDGs.


    UNU-IAS Events

    Managing “Stranded” Assets Risks and Opportunities — Moving Towards Decarbonised Economies and Inclusive Growth in Africa
    10 July 2020


    Organised in collaboration with UNU-INRA, UNU-EHS, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UN ECA), and the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), this event discussed the socio-economic impacts of transitioning away from fossil fuels, and the opportunities for diversification and sustainable development in Africa. Prof. Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi (Director, UNU-IAS) underlined that building back better from COVID-19 must include strategies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and advance all dimensions of sustainable development. The discussion highlighted regional perspectives and drew on strategies from developed countries such as Japan.

    Read more: Leaders & Experts Discuss Green Transition in Africa, Building Back Better from COVID-19

    Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI): Where Next? Redesigning Further Education for the Future
    8 July 2020


    This Special Event — one of nine organised at the 2020 HLPF — focused on how higher education can be redesigned to support sustainable development and regeneration, as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the higher education sector. Building on these discussions, a HESI Roundtable was held on 15 July to reflect on these outcomes and work toward actionable next steps. UNU-IAS outlined its efforts during the roundtable in advancing sustainability through its Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) project, in particular ProSPER.Net, an alliance of universities in the Asia-Pacific region committed to integrating sustainable development into postgraduate courses and research.

    Read more: HESI Special Event Looks at Higher Education’s Role in Rebuilding for the Future

    Read more: HESI Roundtable Considers Next Steps for Redesigning Further Education

    Satoyama Initiative – Societies in Harmony with Nature: An inclusive approach for communities, landscapes and seascapes
    16 July 2020


    This side event focused on the Satoyama Initiative and landscape approaches to biodiversity conservation and human well-being. Prof. Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi (Director, UNU-IAS), outlined the contributions of UNU-IAS, including as the secretariat of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI), a global platform working towards sustainable landscape management. She stressed the need for multinational cooperation and collaboration, urging action to attain the SDGs by 2030 and realise environmental sustainability.

    Read more: Landscape Approaches & COVID-19 Recovery Highlighted in HLPF Side Event

    University Sector Support to the UN Secretary General’s Call for a Decade of Action on the SDGs
    9–10 July 2020


    UNU-IAS joined universities from across the globe in discussing support for the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030, in this online meeting organised by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). By generating and mobilising knowledge, the world’s leading universities are uniquely positioned to accelerate progress on the SDGs. Prof. Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi (Director, UNU-IAS) delivered remarks as part of a panel discussion on The Future of Higher Education in the Post-COVID World. She emphasised that as the globe adapts to a “new normal” in living with COVID-19, achieving the SDGs will require renewed efforts at all levels. Higher education will play a critical role in accelerating progress, while it must also come to terms with this new reality.

    Read more: UNU-IAS Joins Universities in Supporting UN Secretary-General’s Call for a Decade of Action on the SDGs