16 September 2021
Scientists Worldwide Asked to Contribute to 2023 GSDR
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Input is invited from a variety of disciplines to inform the quadrennial report.

The IGS seeks both successful and unsuccessful cases in accelerating progress on the SDGs, including by practically applying linkages across individual Goals and targets.

The GSDR authors are also asking for examples of action by institutions, countries, regions and communities to translate the SDGs, and information on the impacts of COVID-19 and key actions to facilitate recovery.

A group of scientists appointed to write the UN’s 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report is requesting input from experts in various disciplines. Submissions are being accepted until 1 November 2021.

The GSDR is produced every four years to provide evidence-based guidance to sustainable development policymakers. The previous GSDR was released ahead of the UN General Assembly’s SDG Summit in September 2019. It identified levers of change in six systems or “entry points for transformation” needed for achievement of the SDGs. The entry points are:

  • Strengthening human well-being and capabilities;
  • Shifting towards sustainable and just economies;
  • Building sustainable food systems and healthy nutrition patterns;
  • Achieving energy decarbonization and universal access to energy;
  • Promoting sustainable urban and peri-urban development; and
  • Securing the global environmental commons.

The report provided specific calls to action for each of the six entry points for transformation. Its findings were highlighted throughout the 2019 SDG Summit, and the UN structured the discussions at the July 2020 HLPF around the six entry points.

In November 2019, the UN asked governments to nominate scientists to serve as authors of the 2023 GSDR. The report will again provide input for the SDG Summit, where Heads of State and Government will consider four years of progress towards the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

In October 2020, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed 15 scientists to prepare the 2023 GSDR. The members of the group are: John Agard (Trinidad and Tobago) (co-chair); Kaltham Ali Al-Ghanim (Qatar); Sergey N. Bobylev (Russian Federation); Opha Pauline Dube (Botswana); Ibrahima Hathie (Senegal); Norichika Kanie (Japan); Nyovani Janet Madise (Malawi); Shirin Malekpour (Australia); Jaime Miranda (Peru); Jaime C Montoya (Philippines); Jiahua Pan (China); Åsa Persson (Sweden); Ambuj D Sagar (India); Imme Scholz (Germany) (co-chair); and Nancy Shackell (Canada). The authors are known as the Independent Group of Scientists (IGS).

At a virtual briefing in December 2020, the co-chairs and several other IGS members indicated the expected focus for the second GSDR, including that it should:

  • Build on the 2019 edition, including its identification of levers and entry points, while focusing on “actionable items in line with what is possible”;
  • Identify balanced trade-offs; 
  • Identify actionable recommendations for addressing inequalities; and 
  • Initiate action.

Agard said the GSDR is an “assessment of assessments” and must be grounded in information from all regions, based on consultations at the regional level with cross-disciplinary groups on key regional issues. Scholz added the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a challenge for policy makers to combine economic recovery with structural transformations, but the challenge is not uniform across regions. 

In July 2021, Scholz addressed the HLPF meeting. She emphasized the need to anchor developments in local actions, and said digitization is the public responsibility of all countries and is an investment in the global common good. She stressed including perspectives of marginalized groups, such as traditional and Indigenous knowledge.

In September 2021, the UN called for input from experts in various disciplines (natural scientists, social scientists, policy makers, practitioners, etc.) to contribute to the 2023 GSDR. The input form asks for short written responses and relevant publications regarding: case studies of both successful and unsuccessful experiences in accelerating progress on the SDGs, including by practically applying linkages across individual Goals and targets; and examples of action by institutions, countries, regions and communities to translate the SDGs. Other questions invite information on the impacts of COVID-19 on the respondent’s work, and the three most important things that would facilitate recovery from the pandemic.

A task team of six UN entities supports the Independent Group of Scientists: the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the World Bank. 

The SDG Summit is a quadrennial gathering at the level of heads of state and government, convened by the HLPF under the auspices of the UN General Assembly – while the HLPF’s annual meetings are convened under ECOSOC’s auspices. The 2023 Summit will be the second since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. [2023 GSDR webpage] [SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of GSDR]


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