Welcome to our September Newsletter!

September has been a particularly busy month for the SDSN. Please find below a summary of the most important developments at and around the SDSN. As always, we look forward to hearing from you with comments and suggestions on our work and. You can reach us at info@unsdsn.org.

SDSN Events

2nd International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice (ICSDP)

ICSDP 2014

On September 17-18, hundreds of development practitioners, researchers, students from all over the world gathered to present and discuss their research on evidence-based solutions for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. The event was held by the Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice Programs (MDP) in collaboration with the SDSN and included keynotes from Frannie Leautier, Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Mkoba Private Equity Fund; Jeffrey Sachs, Director of SDSN and Earth Institute; and Erik Solheim, Head of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Conference photos and keynote videos will be posted to ic-sdp.org soon.

Fifth Meeting of the SDSN Leadership Council
On September 19-20, 2014, the SDSN Leadership Council convened at Columbia University in New York. The meeting focused on the SDSN contributions to the SDGs, Financing for Development, and Climate Change; expanding the SDSN networks; SDSN Solutions Initiatives; operationalizing long-term transformations to sustainable development; and the SDSN education initiatives. Presentations from the meeting are available here.

Financing for Sustainable Development
On September 22, 2014, the SDSN hosted a meeting of public and private finance experts on “Financing for Sustainable Development” to set the agenda and form working groups in the lead-up to the Financing for Development Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2015. The discussion and follow-up work will be based around four pillars: Public-Private Partnerships, Climate Financing, Mobilizing New Development Financing, and Regulatory Reform.

Mobilizing Cities Behind the SDGs

Mobilizing Cities for SDGs

On September 22, 2014, with support from the UrbanSDG campaign, the SDSN held a meeting of mayors, ambassadors, leaders from the private sector and technical experts to discuss the goal on sustainable cities and human settlements proposed by the Open Working Group and how cities can mobilize around this agenda. Mayors from 10 major cities attended with keynotes delivered by Mayor Eduarado Paes of Rio de Janeiro, Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris, and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York. The event was covered in Scientific American and WNYC.

Special Event for World Leaders on Climate Change and Sustainable Development
On September 22, 2014, the SDSN held a closed-door briefing and discussion for Heads of State & Government and business leaders on science-based climate change response. The meeting included presentations on the climate science of the 2°C limit, Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP), and implications for the international climate negotiations.

Feeding The Nine Billion UNGA High-Level Side Event
The SDSN co-hosted an event on food security with EAT, the Avatar Alliance Foundation, The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Environmental Defense Fund, and UN NGLS on September 24th, 2014. Several Leadership Council members made presentations, including Rajendra Pachauri, Johan Rockström, Jeffrey Sachs, and Feike Sijbesma. Participants discussed how to reduce inequalities in the food system, the challenges climate change and conflict in reducing hunger, empowering women farmers, reducing food waste, and limiting the impact of agriculture on the environment.

Children in the Age of Sustainable Development
On September 26, 2014, as part of the Columbia World Leaders Forum, the Earth Institute, the SDSN and the Global Child Forum, convened a high level meeting on “Children in the Age of Sustainable Development.” Participants discussed mainstreaming and interlinking children’s rights into the SDGs framework and highlighting post-2015 opportunities for securing child wellbeing. HM Queen Silvia of Sweden, founder of the World Childhood Foundation and the co-initiator of the Global Child Forum gave the keynote address (full statement here). Read the full event report here.

SDSN Work on Climate Change

DDPP Report Presented at UN Climate Summit
On September 23, 2014, Jeffrey Sachs presented the 2014 Pathways to Deep Decarbonization report at the “Economic Case for Action” session (notes available here) at the UN Climate Summit. The Summit, convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, brought together world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to galvanize climate action and build momentum towards a global agreement under UNFCCC at COP21 in December 2015.

Message to World Leaders on Climate Change
SDSN is excited to have partnered with Avaaz on the climate letter calling on world leaders to take urgent climate action to keep limit global warming to less than 2°C. The over 2 million signatures were presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 21, 2014, ahead of the Climate Summit.

Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in Australia released
As a part of global the DDPP, ClimateWorks Australia and Australia National University has published Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation in 2050: How Australia can prosper in a low carbon world (PDF), which finds that Australia can reach net zero emissions by 2050 while maintaining economic growth. Learn more about the report here.

DDPP Meeting Held in New York
On September 24-25, 2014 the DDPP Research Country Teams convened in New York to discuss the next phase of the project and preparations for a comprehensive report to the French Government, host of COP21 of the UNFCCC. The discussions focused on options for deepening decarbonization strategies, methods for analyzing national and international financial requirements, and policy frameworks for implementation. Learn more at deepdecarbonization.org.

SDSN Work on the Data Revolution

SDSN is working with a range of partners – including the ONE campaign, UN Statistics Division, the World Bank, Paris 21 and the Gates Foundation – to advance the Data Revolution. As input into the  Independent Advisory Expert Group on the Data Revolution and the Financing for Development Summit in July 2015, SDSN is supporting a needs assessment to estimate the scale of resources required to ensure a robust national and international statistical architecture, ready to measure the SDGs in 2016. SDSN is also working closely with Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) to understand what survey instruments are required to gather SDG data on an annual basis. Two new publications written for SDSN by Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI, are available at unsdsn.org/data.

SDSN.edu: The Online Education Platform for Sustainable Development

SDSN.edu launched formally in September 2014 with Professor Jeffrey Sachs’ course, The Age of Sustainable Development. The course has drawn over 30,000 new students, and Professor Sachs has already hosted two Google Hangouts, allowing students to ask questions directly in real time. This course, as well as two new courses Climate Change Science & Negotiations and Planetary Boundaries & Human Opportunities, are currently open for enrollment. Additional courses on topics such as Human Rights and Social Inclusion and Early Childhood Development will be launched soon. For more information, please email our education initiatives team at edu@unsdsn.org.

Thematic Group Updates

Forests, Oceans, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Services (FOBES)
The FOBES thematic group met in New York on September 22, 2014. The group’s co-chairs, Shahid Naeem, Virgilio Viana, and Martin Visbeck led the group in a discussion of indicators for the post-2015 agenda, possible solutions initiatives, and future work streams.

Social Inclusion and Human Rights
On September 18, 2014, SDSN’s thematic group on Social Inclusion convened a high-level panel at the International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice. This event focused on the concepts of building resilience and sustaining peace through inclusive democratic processes. A full event report is available here.

Sustainable Cities
On September 22, 2014, the Thematic Group on Sustainable Cities met to discuss work plans and initiatives, including an online course on sustainable urban development and an information exchange on best practices in sustainable urban development between city practitioners, policymakers, universities, the private sector, and civil society. In partnership with the UrbanSDG Campaign, a new report “Developing City-Level SDG” with indicators comparing the data availability in six cities will be shared soon.

Big Data for Smallholder Farmers

Bellagio Italy

The Thematic Group on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems met for three days in Bellagio, Italy to discuss a potential solutions initiative to increase the yields of smallholder farmers through data-based decision tools. Data would be collected from smallholder farmers, analyzed by smallholders with some capacity building and advice from the expert/extension community, and in turn used to make recommendations to other smallholders. Contact info@unsdsn.org if you are interested in finding out more about this project.

Letter on Importance of Natural Resource Management
SDSN’s Thematic Group on the Good Governance of Extractive and Land Resources submitted a letter to the President of the UN General Assembly, Ambassador Sam Kutesa on “Why natural resources are a critical component of a post-2015 SDG framework.” Read the letter here.

From the National and Regional SDSNs

5th Annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit (ISDS) Held in Nigeria
On August 25-29, 2014, the University of Ibadan Centre for Sustainable Development (CESDEV) hosted in the Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit (ISDS) in collaboration with the African Sustainable Development Network (ASUDNET) and Nigeria Sustainable Development Solutions Network (NSDSN) with the support from SDSN. Over 180 participants, including researchers, development practitioners, and students attended. Read the detailed conference report here.

SDSN in the Media

Paul Polman in Huffington Post – Our Planet Is Changing – So Must Our Global Food System (co-author) – September 26, 2014

Peter Bakker in Huffington Post – Put a Price on Carbon. Now. – September 25, 2014

Jeffrey Sachs in World Economic Forum Blog – Why we need the UN’s sustainable development goals – September 24, 2014

DDPP in National Geographic – The Gathering Storm: U.S. Must Lead Action on Climate Change – September 23, 2014

DDPP in The Sydney Morning Herald – Australia can quit coal without adverse effects on economy – September 23, 2014

DDPP in IB Times – UN Climate Summit In New York Comes At Critical Point In Fight To Reduce Emissions – September 21, 2014

Sunita Narain in Business Standard – Building Green Sense – September 21, 2014

Frances Beinecke in Huffington Post – We Made History: 310,000 March for Climate Action – September 21, 2014

SDSN in Nature – UN sustainability goals need quantified targets – September 17, 2014

Jeffrey Sachs in World Bank Live – From MDGs to SDGs: Lessons and New Challenges (video) – September 10, 2014

Christiana Figueres in The Guardian – New York climate summit is a chance to push for long-term climate neutrality – September 4, 2014

SDSN in SciDev.net – Science: What can it do for the Sustainable Development Goals? – September 4, 2014

SDSN in Corporate Citizen Briefing – The role of the private sector in addressing Sustainable Development Challenge – September 4, 2014

SDSN.edu in Inside Higher Ed – A Platform for All Purposes – September 4, 2014

SDSN.edu in TechCrunch – Sustainable Development Goes Massively Online As EdCast Launches With Sustainability Expert Jeffrey Sachs – September 3, 2014

Upcoming SDSN Events
  • October 22-24 – Sustainability Science Congress 2014 | Copenhagen, Denmark
  • November 4-11 – APEC meetings | Beijing, China
  • November 16-19 – 3rd Global Youth Meet (GYM) | Visakhapatnam, India
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