United Nations Secretary-General Announces Launch of Independent Global Initiative to Help Resolve Environmental, Social, Economic Problems

9 August 2012
ENV/DEV/1315

United Nations Secretary-General Announces Launch of Independent Global Initiative to Help Resolve Environmental, Social, Economic Problems

9 August 2012
Press Release
ENV/DEV/1315
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations Secretary-General Announces Launch of Independent Global

Initiative to Help Resolve Environmental, Social, Economic Problems

Special Adviser Jeffrey Sachs to Head Sustainable Development Solutions Network

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will launch a new independent global network of research centres, universities and technical institutions to help find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental, social and economic problems.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network will work with stakeholders including business, civil society, United Nations agencies and other international organizations to identify and share the best pathways to achieve sustainable development.  The initiative is part of the work undertaken in response to the mandate on post-2015 and the outcome of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Under the leadership of Jeffrey D. Sachs, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, the Network will begin work immediately as the international community initiates preparations for a new development framework.  It will operate in close coordination with the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, announced by the United Nations last week.  “The post-2015 objectives will help the world to focus on the vital challenges of sustainable development,” Secretary-General Ban said.  “And the Sustainable Development Solutions Network will be an innovative way to draw upon worldwide expertise in the campuses, universities, scientific research centres and business technology divisions around the world.”

The scale of the global sustainable development challenge is unprecedented.  The fight against extreme poverty has made great progress since the Millennium Development Goals were agreed at a United Nations Summit in 2000 with a target date of 2015, but more than one billion people remain in extreme poverty.  Inequality and social exclusion are widening within most countries.  With the world population at 7 billion and the current annual global gross domestic product (GDP) at $70 trillion, human impacts on the environment have already reached dangerous levels.  As the world population is estimated to rise to 9 billion by 2050 and global GDP to more than $250 trillion, the world urgently needs a framework for sustainable development that addresses the challenges of ending poverty, increasing social inclusion and sustaining the planet.

Yet, the reality is that politics around the world too often focuses on short-term issues while Governments often lack the timely information needed for long-term sustainable development strategies.  It is essential that scientists and technology experts outside Government support the development of long-term analyses, demonstration programmes and development pathways.  This will be an unparalleled global challenge, requiring a new generation of problem solving that will address local, national and regional objectives, and strategies around highly complex issues facing humanity in the twenty-first century.  That’s where the Sustainable Development Solutions Network will come in.

Under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General, the Network will provide an independent global, open and inclusive process to support and scale up problem solving at local, national and global levels.  “In the 20 years since the first Rio ‘Earth Summit’, the world has largely failed to address some of the most serious environmental and social problems pressing in on us,” Mr. Sachs said.  “We can’t afford business as usual.  We need to engage the academic and scientific community, and tap into worldwide technological know-how in the private sector and civil society, in order to develop and implement practical solutions.”

Ted Turner, global business leader, philanthropist and founder of CNN and the United Nations Foundation, will work with other leaders in sustainable development to help guide and advise the Network.  “We need development solutions based in science, and we need them now,” said Mr. Turner.   “The future of the planet and its people is at stake,” he emphasized.  “The new Sustainable Development Solutions Network aims to promote smart and effective action — before it’s too late.”

Substantial emphasis will be placed on collaboration across countries to analyse common problems and learn from different experiences.  The Network will accelerate joint learning and help overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated “systems” approaches to addressing the complex economic, social and environmental challenges confronting Governments.  As part of the Network, businesses, particularly those operating with cutting-edge technologies, will work alongside scientists, policy analysts and community leaders to understand and anticipate new technological opportunities to address economic, social and environmental constraints.

For more information, please contact Erin Trowbridge at tel. +1 917 291 7974; or e-mail:  trowbridge@ei.columbia.edu; or Charlotte Scaddan, United Nations Department of Public Information at tel. +1 917 367 9378; or e-mail:  scaddan@un.org.  To learn more, please visit:  http://www.unsdsn.org/.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.