Stronger bridge between science and policies needed to achieve SDGs
Understanding of the scientific basis for action will be needed to achieve the ambitious and transformative goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, according to a new report issued by the United Nations today during the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
According to the Global Sustainable Development Report 2016, key elements of the 2030 Agenda –such as what it will take to ensure that no one will be left behind — have yet to be thoroughly scientifically researched. The report finds that the new agenda requires asking different questions, many that have not yet been answered by the research.
The report, an assessment of a broad array of scientific literature pertaining to the sustainable development agenda, was prepared by UN DESA and draws on the technical expertise of 245 scientist and experts.
But the report concluded that “if no one is to be left behind in 2030, the notion of inclusiveness cannot be treated as an afterthought. Rather, it should be an integral part of institution design and functioning; of research and development, and of infrastructure planning and development, to mention only topics covered in this report.”
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo said the GSDR “underscores the importance of preserving a window for the interaction between science and policy at the High Level Political Forum.”
He added, “This was one of the ground breaking innovations from Rio+20. Science is needed more than ever to inform the implementation of the ambitious new agenda. In turn, science needs to be responsive to the questions that this new agenda puts forward. There is need for dialogue, and the HLPF should remain a central platform for such dialogue.”
To ensure that no one is left behind, the report found that it is necessary to determine who exactly is being left behind — often thought of as people affected by poverty, a lack of inclusiveness, discrimination and inequality.
It is important to take into account the dynamic nature of deprivation and inequality; in this respect, preventive policies are critical to ensure that new people or groups do not fall behind at the same time as others escape poverty and deprivation.
According to the report, whether particular strategies succeed in reaching those left behind depend on many factors, from country-specific circumstances, to their design, targeting methods and practical implementation.
Examples of interventions reviewed for the report that aim to reach the furthest behind first include targeting those suffering the most from stunting, area-based interventions targeting the poorest locations, and strategies to provide shelter for homeless people.
The report also explores an extensive amount of scientific research on the inter-linkages between infrastructure, inequality and resilience, finding possible links between infrastructure and inequality, as well as on how people’s resilience is affected separately by infrastructure resilience and by inequality.
“As in any nexus, harnessing synergies and addressing trade-offs is critical for policy-making. The research reviewed for the report emphasizes that a focus on both efficiency and equity is needed to harness the synergies between infrastructure, inequality and resilience.”
Other issues that the report investigated include the role of technology for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is essential for achieving the Goals, and the need for inclusive institutions for sustainable development.