The World in 2050 (TWI2050) is designed as a partnership between science and policy that aims to develop equitable pathways to sustainable development within safe planetary boundaries. TWI2050 was launched by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), unanimously adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, provide an aspirational narrative for the desired future for human development with an actionable agenda. The aspiration is for a world free from hunger, injustice and absolute poverty, of universal education, health and employment with inclusive economic growth, based on transparency, dignity and equity, all achieved within the boundaries of the planet. The urgent question now is how to act on this aspirational agenda and to have a clear understanding of the full consequences and cost of inaction and the benefits of achieving SDGs in every major region of the world.
The World in 2050 is an initiative designed to help answer these questions. TWI2050 aims not only to contribute to this understanding but also develop science-based transformational and equitable pathways to sustainable development that can provide much needed information and guidance for policy makers responsible for the implementation of the SDGs.
The goal of the new scientific initiative TWI2050 is to provide the fact-based knowledge to support the policy process and implementation of the 2030 Agenda. TWI2050 aims to address the full spectrum of transformational challenges related to achieving the 17 SDGs in an integrated manner so as to minimize potential conflicts among them and reap the benefits of potential synergies of achieving them in unison.
The SDGs set out very clear and ambitious global goals across social, economic and environmental areas with important interactions between and among these goals (e.g., between energy and climate, between food security and ecosystems, etc.). What is lacking, but urgently required, is an assessment of the viability of achieving these multiple social-economic-environmental-planetary goals simultaneously using integrative and systemic methodological approaches. This is necessary to answer questions such as:
- How do we meet the hunger, poverty, energy, growth goals while meeting the environmental goals?
- What are the synergies and trade-offs?
- What are the costs of pursuing social goals without meeting sustainability goals and the other way around?
Other Thematic Networks
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has established 12 Thematic Networks comprising leading scientists, engineers, academics and practitioners from business and civil society to promote solutions to key challenges of sustainable development. The Thematic Networks are solution oriented rather than research oriented and aim to identify practical solutions to the challenges of sustainable development.
This thematic network looks at how to accelerate progress in the most fragile regions and how to ensure coherence between the development and humanitarian agendas. The work of this network relates in particular to SDG 16 and cuts across all goals areas.
This network focuses on human rights and works towards a world where the equal dignity and worth of every individual is respected and valued. It focuses in particular on the realization of SDGs 5, 10, and 16, and its work cuts across all goals areas.
This network takes a comprehensive, lifelong and multigenerational approach to learning to maximize the world’s potential for sustainable development. The network aims to support the fulfillment of SDG 4 in particular.
As articulated in SDG 3, health is crucial for sustainable development, as it sits at the nexus of the social, environmental, economic, and governance issues. While the MDGs brought new vigor to specific global health challenges, this network seeks to expand the global agenda, with a focus on Universal Health Coverage.
The network comprises the members of the Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project (DDPP), an initiative that prepares national, long-term low-emission development pathways that are consistent with the 2°C target, working with 16 country research teams. The work of the DDPP supports the achievement of SDG 13 on climate action.
This network explores how to provide healthy diets to a growing world population while reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. It also looks at how the three pillars of sustainable development can be realized in rural areas. The network’s activities explicitly aim to support the fulfillment of SDG 2.
This network seeks integrative solutions for securing biodiversity and improving the management of ecosystem services, from fisheries and timber to forest carbon sinks. Moving forward the work will be separated into a network focusing on oceans and one addressing forests in particular. Together they will support the achievement of SDGs 14 and 15.
Today, 50% of the world’s 7 billion people live in cities, and, by 2050, this will rise to 70%. This thematic network seeks to identify practical solutions for improving urban management and achieving sustainable cities and human settlements (SDG 11). The work will build on the Campaign for an Urban Sustainable Development Goal, which now aims to support SDG 11 and the achievement of all the SDGs at subnational levels.
Extractive industries are critical drivers of many economies, but often place a great burden on environmental systems, or affect societies in areas of extraction. This network looks at how to better use resource endowments, including land, for sustainable development. Much of the work of this group touches upon good resource management, linked to SDG 12, as well as accountability and building strong institutions, as per the objectives of SDG 16.
The SDSN is partnering with the World Business Council and other business groups on a number of initiatives, including the Low-Carbon Technology Partnership initiative (LCTPi). This targeted collaboration replaces the dedicated Thematic Network.
TReNDS seeks to identify new and innovative information and monitoring systems necessary to guide the SDGs, as well as existing approaches to data collection, compilation, analysis, and dissemination that might help data users to overcome gaps and limitations. The network members are actively engaged in the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, launched in September 2015.