GSDR 2015: Improved Science Needed for Sustainable Development Decision-Making
Photo by IISD/ENB | Pamela Chasek
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The 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) underscores the importance of science in guiding policy decisions for sustainable development.

The report, called for by the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), provides a survey of scientific findings on oceans and livelihoods, sustainable consumption and production (SCP), disaster risk reduction (DRR), industrialization and the use of big data in Africa, among other issues.

global-sustainable-development1 July 2015: The 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) underscores the importance of science in guiding policy decisions for sustainable development. The report, called for by the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), provides a survey of scientific findings on oceans and livelihoods, sustainable consumption and production (SCP), disaster risk reduction (DRR), industrialization and the use of big data in Africa, among other issues.

The report finds that further research is necessary to better understand how human well-being and livelihoods affect the sustainability of oceans, seas and marine resources. It observes that human activities increasingly degrade, destroy or threaten these resources, but that there is a lack of scientific information on how improvements in human well-being can reduce ocean degradation, or how changes in consumption of lifestyle patterns could affect marine resource sustainability.

On DRR, the report highlights how natural disasters can erode development gains, and recommends effective DRR measures to ensure that disaster-prone countries and others are able to implement and achieve the post-2015 development agenda.

On the use of big data in Africa, the report describes uses of mobile devices and internet to collect data more efficiently, as well as to access populations not covered through traditional data collection.

In response to a crowd sourcing process, the scientific community identified energy, natural resource management, governance and climate change as new and emerging issues needing policy makers’ awareness.

On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the GSDR discusses three recommendations by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), which suggest: an overarching goal to help communicate the SDGs to the public and track overall progress; a composite framework to link interdependent targets that span different goals; and the development of scenario-based narratives of alternative pathways, such as describing how to build on synergies or overcome trade-offs. The report also discusses integrated assessments and the SDGs.

UN Member States, UN staff and other stakeholders discussed the report at the 2015 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), including during a side event titled ‘GSDR 2015: Highlights and Way Forward,’ which took place in New York, US, on 1 July. [UN Press Release] [Publication: Global Sustainable Development Report 2015] [Side Event Agenda] [IISD RS Coverage of HLPF]


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