The aim of the event is to facilitate exchanges between research, policy-making and practice, as well as to learn from different perspectives and discuss innovative approaches so that scientific findings can be better integrated into political decision-making processes and implementation of the 2030 Agenda supported.
Sustainable Development Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) of the 2030 Agenda underscores that the SDGs can only be successfully implemented through partnerships between politics, science, civil society and business. Switzerland was actively involved in the development of the 2030 Agenda. “Researchers must collaborate with all the relevant stakeholders to develop common approaches to implementation,” Esther Mwangi, a Kenyan scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), declared at the conference. Esther Turnhout, professor at the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, commented that science runs the risk of losing touch with the world it aims to improve: “Science should not only show more engagement, it must also be aware of its political relevance.” For this reason, research questions must be critically reviewed and oriented to the needs of society.
The question of financing the 2030 Agenda was also addressed. Official development assistance alone is not enough to come up with the USD 5–7 trillion needed every year for the Agenda’s implementation. “Closer involvement of the private sector and the promotion of private-public financing models are essential,” said Michael Gerber, ambassador and Special Envoy for Global Sustainable Development within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).
Expanding the scope of research partnerships
The 2030 Agenda must now be defined and implemented at country level. Dealing with the complex challenges that arise in the process of implementing the agenda requires new models of thinking and working. Science can make a major contribution in this respect. “Investments in long-term research partnerships between industrialised and developing countries are essential for providing the knowledge needed for the negotiation, learning and decision-making processes,” emphasised conference organiser, Thomas Breu, from the Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Bern.
The SDC, together with the Swiss National Science Foundation, has been promoting interdisciplinary research partnerships that explore new areas for several decades already, including through its research programme, Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development. The main aim of research within the context of Switzerland’s international cooperation is to come up with new findings and innovative approaches as well as to utilise and disseminate scientific knowledge for the benefit of the populations of poverty-stricken and developing regions.
One example is the development by researchers from Switzerland and the Philippines of a technology for processing coconut shells into ecologically sound construction boards, known as cocoboards. And thanks to an approach developed by researchers from Switzerland and Madagascar, the maize harvest in Madagascar could be increased by a factor of five, while deforestation would be reduced.
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