The UNGA President urged Member States to join the Group of Friends on Science for Action, calling its establishment “an important step forward towards multilateral cooperation and exchange of information and data”.
The briefings seek to support the negotiating processes currently underway in the UNGA and will feed into the HLPF in July, the SDG Summit in September, and the 2024 Summit of the Future.
President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Csaba Kőrösi convened the second informal plenary meeting to hear briefings from eminent scientists and academics on: metrics beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP); Food Security and Sustainability Transformation; and a Scientific Support System for the UN. Ahead of the briefing, Belgium, India, and South Africa announced the Group of Friends on Science for Action “as part of an effort to tackle complex and interconnected global crises.”
The UNGA President urged other Member States to join the Group of Friends, calling its establishment on 12 April 2023 “an important step forward towards multilateral cooperation and exchange of information and data.”
The briefings took place on 13 April. They seek to support the negotiating processes currently underway in the UNGA and will feed into the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July, the SDG Summit in September, and the 2024 Summit of the Future.
The panel on measuring metrics beyond GDP addressed “the creation of an index to measure sustainability which has been in discussion since the Sustainable Development Goals were created.” Recognizing GDP’s role in ensuring that statistical figures are “country-owned [and] comparable over time and between countries,” experts called for a policy paradigm for citizens that incorporates well-being, inclusion, and sustainability.
The panel on food security highlighted that “an interdisciplinary approach is critical to designing food policies that accurately diagnose problems, identify overlaps and trade-offs and address the unintended consequences of strategies aimed at ensuring the world’s 8 billion citizens have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food at all times.”
Speakers emphasized the need to address accessibility challenges, especially for women who are often excluded from extension services and digital technologies, and outlined the role of satellite data, which are largely free, accessible, and open, in “de-risking the transition to sustainable agricultural practices.” Participants called for “a systems-thinking approach, which understands food production and consumption have unintended consequences and that science is needed to make decisions that minimize the inevitable trade-offs.”
The panel discussion on scientific support for the UN focused on data and statistics, including on “how to leverage information despite data gaps and use it to influence public policy and drive impact in countries” through cooperation and international collaboration.
In closing, the UNGA President said with the scientific support that is multidisciplinary, data-based, data-driven, pragmatic, and solution-oriented, “transformation is possible.” Kőrösi’s motto for the Assembly’s 77th session is ‘Solutions through Solidarity, Sustainability and Science.’ [UNGA Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on the First Scientific Briefing]