What We Do
SDSN Greece cross cutting thematic priorities and Focus Areas
SDSN Greece works on three cross cutting thematic priorities and five focus areas directly related to business; underpinned by a firm commitment to science driven technological and social solutions for implementing the SDGs.
Cross cutting thematic priorities
Our five focus areas directly related to business:
Seas and coastal areas form an integrated and essential component of the Mediterranean ecosystem and are critical to sustainable development. Careful management of this resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. Rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, food and oxygen, are ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, the Mediterranean sea has been a vital conduit for trade and transportation. Shipping remains the world’s most efficient transport form; however, as more than 90% of the world’s traded goods travel by sea, shipping is associated with a major environmental impact. Thus it emerges as an immediate need to reshape the shipping business towards a sustainable model of operation. With regards to marine resources, issues of climate change, pollution, multi-use structures and over-exploitation lead to severe degradation of marine ecosystems. It is thus imperative to increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the regional needs and particularities as well as European and International Law and regulations towards a sustainable future. The concept of sustainable shipping and management of marine resources incorporates aspects of sustainable development, environmental and social responsibility and develops upon the strengthening of the environmental, societal and economic pillars in the Mediterranean. This entails identifying and strengthening regulatory, socio-economic, market and human factors. The design and implementation of sustainable shipping and marine resource management requires constructive dialogues, partnerships, synergies and joint research and development (R&D). The process involves many different stakeholders thus the understanding of the concerns, needs and expectations of all the different involved parties remains essential.
Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential. Sustainable energy is opportunity – it transforms lives, economies and the planet. EU energy policies as formulated in the EU energy policy goals for 2020, 2030 and 2050 target sustainable and green energy consumption through energy efficiency improvements, penetration of Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and other measures of relevance. Despite the pressures to implement sustainable energy policies, countries have embarked on the energy transition at different speeds. This pace differential can be attributed to both micro aspects of individual behaviors and household preferences, and macro aspects of governance and institutional structures. The speed of adoption and the implementation of the energy policies can have significant impacts on the economies. It emerges thus as a primary goal to understand the drivers of energy transition and their growth implications, building on the idea that successful energy transition and green sustainable growth can be the outcome of timely reactions and combined actions at micro and macro level. What is also crucial is to conceptualize the fundamental aspects of energy related consumer behavior, the governance and institutional frameworks that determine the implementation of the relevant policies and the possible interactions between individuals and institutions that can support sustainable energy transition. This can be supported with the development of appropriate IT tools and applications that enable data collection, assessment and informed decision making.
Water – access to supply, maintenance of aquatic ecosystems; Energy – its generation, its use; Food – its production, its consumption. Each of these elements are recognized as vital for human development and are respectively addressed by one or more of the SDGs. However the implementation of the SDGs requires the acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of these issues and a reflection of this in potential solutions; hence the “Nexus” approach. The Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus approach considers the interdependencies between these elements and in so doing takes into account not only they ways in which the relationships between water, energy and food can exacerbate negative impacts within the nexus, but also how synergies between the elements can benefit integrated solutions.
Sustainable Tourism is in reality tourism that takes place with respect to the environment, the host community and the local economy. In order for sustainable tourism to be successful, it requires the involvement of all stakeholders (namely the host community, the public and the private sector) in its planning and implementation at all stages. Already, an ever increasing number of countries as well as prominent companies operating within the International Tourism Business are developing and implementing sustainable tourism related policies. Finally the United Nations as well as its relevant body the UN world Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), have already acknowledged the tremendous importance of sustainable tourism and this is why 2017 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
PRIMARY LEVELS OF EDUCATION
The SDG agenda calls for intergenerational understanding, action and partnerships. Primary schools embody the future citizens and it is where the development of their personal character, or ethos according to Aristotle, is taking place. This makes primary education a fertile ground for SDGs adoption and increased probability of achievement. From environmental education and healthy living to human rights and social justice, the SDGs provide an effective framework for teachers and students to define, recognize and evaluate the work that they have been already doing in these areas. The universality and simplicity of the messages is also a way to more easily engage parents, businesses and local civil society in school actions in a way to that will support the youth to become passionate and responsible. Finally, since the SDGs are here to stay, the agenda can serve as a compass to the crucial next century skills that students should develop to later become competitive in the job market.
The idea of promoting social welfare in business is not new and dates to the 1960’s when the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) came into play. Businesses work both on the demand and the supply side of the economy. They require financial, natural, social and human capital in different quantities to produce goods and services. From the point of view of the SDGs, production choices are at the core of SDG implementation as they involve externalities; either environmental (pollution, over-extraction of natural resources, waste, energy inefficiency, etc.) or social (job creation, poverty reduction, gender equality, etc.). The SDGs provide a framework for companies to maximize their contribution to society and ensure sustainability is at the core of their business strategy. They can also activate joint operation along the SDGs and joint investment in innovation, leading to corporation within and between sectors. Finally, they present significant opportunities for the private sector to open up new market opportunities and attract new private investments on sustainable development by leveraging companies’ core competencies, expertise and resources.
10 actions on a path to incorporate a sustainable agenda at the universities and education:
1. Consider incorporating SD elements into courses
2. Identify SD elements in existing courses
3. Identify SD elements in existing research and supporting new
4. Support youth involvement in SDSN Youth Greece
5. Consider giving credit for some SDG Academy online courses
6. Set up team or committee on SD and university
7. Workshops on SD themes (could be done jointly with other universities including SDSN network abroad)
8. Undertake sustainability analysis (ISO type) of university
9. You could mention our joint efforts for Masters in Sustainability Management/Training courses but that we are confronting new legislation obstacles
10. Once teams have been established (along themes) could foster collaboration with other SDSN entities, Ministry, Municipalities, Periferies, etc. for joint research and projects for funding
Thematic Brainstorming Sessions
SDSN Greece will host a number of brainstorming sessions built around each of our five business-related focus areas. Sustainable Shipping and Management of Marine Resources, Sustainable Energy and Energy Security, Sustainable Food-Water-Energy Nexus, Sustainable Tourism and Education and Training for Sustainable Development. The aim of these brainstorming sessions is to bring together industry and thought leaders to explore the challenge of sustainable development in the context of the various focus areas.
In their capacity as industry influencers, each session will be anchored by relevant members of the SDSN Greece Leadership Council who along with experts and XXX, will dissect pressing issues and key challenges faced within the respective business sectors and exchange initial ideas on practical and sustainable solutions. Conducted in a relatively informal setting, with a maximum of 12 participants, the sessions will provide a safe forum to pose the candid questions and put forward the avant garde solutions that are necessary to make inroads towards achieving the SDGs and sustainable development in each of the relevant sectors; not just at policy level, but more importantly with regards to operational processes and practical implementation.
Each session will produce a shortlist of key challenges from the perspective of industry leaders, as well as a portfolio of fundable sustainable and solutions-oriented potential projects to trigger those vital first steps necessary to kick-start meaningful progress towards the SDGs.