To advance the SDG localization effort in France, SDSN and Université PSL co-hosted a public event on June 21, 2018, entitled “The Role of France and French Universities in Achieving the SDGs.” Prof. Edouard Husson, Vice-President of PSL, opened the event and reiterated the institution’s commitment to sustainable development: “we must develop through training, not only knowledge but also the skills to act tomorrow. This is our mission as a university.” He announced that Université PSL would work with Kedge Business School to host a new SDSN France network, which is expected to launch in late 2018.

Capping off a full day of discussion in a workshop with French academics and experts, organized around three themes (the energy transition, transforming education, and urban development), the public event took place in the historical lecture hall of Chimie ParisTech and was moderated by the Claude Nahon, Senior Vice-President on Sustainable Development at EDF, the French utility. Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the SDSN, gave a keynote address the six key areas in which transformations are critical to achieving the SDGs.

We are here today because we need the best scientists and the best minds to find solutions” – Prof. Jeffrey Sachs

In the following discussion, the renowned panelists from politics and academia highlighted their views on the sustainable transformation underway and shared concrete examples from France.

Laurence Fabius, former Prime Minister of France and current President of the Constitutional Council, recognised most recently for his key role in formalising the historic Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015, reminded the audience that humans are a part of nature and that we have an immense responsibility to act on its behalf with little time to undertake the change needed to see the SDGs achieved by 2030.

Edouard Husson, Professor, and Vice-President of PSL, pointed towards the importance of undertaking research on sustainable development in conjunction with society to ensure successful implementation.

Laurance Monnoyer-Smith, French Commissioner General for Sustainable Development, summarised the various government-led initiatives around sustainable development including the presentation of a sustainable development strategy for France which will be presented by President Macron at the HLPF in 2019 and the launch of the new Agenda 2030 for France website.

Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, brought the comparative perspective to shed light on France’s position vis à vis the SDGs. “France can lead by example in many areas but needs to invest more in women and girls. I encourage France to make greater investments in gender equality that will improve the lives of all – overseas and at home.” Ms. Ramos noted. She also highlighted the importance of metrics in making the SDGs tangible and key drivers for future policymaking.