Reflections on the Global Sustainable Development Report

Following the launch of the Global Sustainable Development Report 2015 Edition in June, Member State representatives, scientists and UN officials reflect on its findings and usefulness for policymakers in a newly released video.

The need for scientific understanding of key issues, reliable data in the poorest countries, and effective means to convey scientific findings to decision-makers present major challenges to the implementation of the sustainable development agenda that countries are expected to adopt this September, according to the 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR).

The GSDR, an intergovernmentally-mandated report on the science-policy interface for sustainable development, was presented to UN Member States at the High Level Political Forum on 30 June. The Forum is a new body expected to be tasked with monitoring the implementation of the new sustainable development agenda, anchored by 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The successful implementation of the new sustainable development agenda requires a strong scientific foundation that is understood by policymakers,” said Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General. “This report shows us how we must sharpen our collective scientific understanding […] and presentation so that we can make informed decisions that improve people’s lives.”

The 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report provides a survey of scientific findings on a range of pressing sustainable development issues that includes oceans and livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, industrialization, and use of “big data” in Africa.

A number of Member State representatives, members of the scientific community and UN officials shared their views on the Global Sustainable Development Report with UN DESA.

Lucilla Spini, Head of Science Programmes, International Council for Science (ICSU), noted the diversity of views reflected in the report. “What I think is really important is […] the great amount of contributors, in terms of organizations and individuals, that have contributed to this report from all over the world.”

Annika Lindblom, Director for International Sustainable Development in the Ministry of Environment of Finland, highlighted the importance of the nexus approach featured in the GSDR. “What we thought was particularly valuable was this integrated approach, this nexus thinking […] creating linkages between different thematic areas and challenges like water and human development.”

Andalib Elias, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to United Nations, said that the “GSDR is very important for the policy makers, particularly for countries like Bangladesh, because the areas that were touched upon in the report — the science-policy interface, the critical importance of disaster risk reduction, and the relationships between economic growth and sustainable consumption and production — all these will help the policy makers in all countries to take learned and educated decisions.”

Maria Ivanova of the UN Secretary General’s Scientific Advisory Board commended the report for focusing on certain groups of countries whose situations need to be addressed in a special way, such as Small Island Developing States and Landlocked Developing Countries.

For more information: Global Sustainable Development Report, 2015 edition