SDSN Year 2016 in Review

2016 was a year full of action, excitement and surprises in the arena of sustainable development. SDSN launched a new SDG Index and Dashboards, rolled out new courses at the SDG Academy, hosted several successful international conferences and more. Some of the key highlights are summarized below.

  • In the spring of 2016, SDSN, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the SDG Charter, and the European Economic and Social Committee jointly convened a multi-stakeholder meeting in Brussels to explore the question of how to make the SDGs “Europe’s business” and position the EU as a key leader in sustainable development.
  • The summer got off to a great start with some hot new releases including the SDG Index and Dashboards, launched in partnership with The Bertelsmann Stiftung, one of the largest foundations in Germany. The Index and Dashboards will assist countries in operationalizing the SDGs using data available today.
  • In July, the SDSN, Ford Foundation, the Office of the Mayor of New York City, and 100 Resilient Cities co-convened a workshop on SDG localization. The workshop provided an opportunity to reflect on a range of practical tools to support implementation, including a new SDSN guide for cities getting started with the SDGs.
  • The new SDG 16 Data Initiative, on which SDSN collaborated, showcased currently available data on all SDG 16 targets. The global data compiled and presented on the SDG16 website were selected from a variety of official and nongovernmental sources by specialists from fourteen independent organizations.
  • During the September Leadership Council meeting, the SDG Academy was launched. It now has 10 courses and has reached 125,000 students worldwide.
  • During the same week the 4th Annual International Conference on Sustainable Development featured several high-level speakers, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica and Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway. The conference had over 1,000 people in attendance for the second year in a row.
  • Later in the fall of 2016, the global urban community came together in South America for two milestone events: the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders, in Bogota, Colombia, and Habitat III, in Quito, Ecuador. Following the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, Habitat III presented a unique opportunity for the world’s cities to signal their commitment to a more sustainable world and to assert their role in delivering it.
  • In November, the Government of Morocco, SDSN, WBCSD and ICLEI co-hosted the COP22 Low-Emissions Solutions Conference. Cities, business, academics and government came together to scale up solutions for climate action at COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, and accelerate the implementation of the historic Paris Agreement.
  • The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation generously provided a $10 million Gift to SDSN and launched the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University in Malaysia in December of 2016.
  • Finally, SDSN Youth had an instrumental year in the expansion of their network and activities. They are now operating with 60+ core youth, in 40+ countries, on a variety of initiatives including Local Pathways Fellowship, Global Schools Program, Vatican Youth Symposium, TwentyThirty and the Youth Solutions Report.


Other News and Events

  • SDSN Leadership Council Co-chair Amina Mohammed was appointed Deputy Secretary-General to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
  • Sign up for the SDSN Youth Newsletter!
  • The New York Society for Ethical Culture, in conjunction with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Religions for Peace, is convening Ethics in Action NYC workshops in order to help build a shared vision of the common good for NYC and to help guide problem solving in NYC and in the US.
  • SDSN Brazil held its second national forum. This year the focus was on SDG 11+, going beyond Goal 11 to take into consideration all SDGs connected with urban sustainable development.
  • SDSN Nigeria, in partnership with a number of private sector representatives and led by First Planet Consultant Ltd, hosted its first workshop on deepening cooperation with the private sector towards SDG implementation in Nigeria.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed 15 eminent scientists and experts to draft the Global Sustainable Development Report, including David Smith, Chair of the SDSN Caribbean, Coordinator of the University Consortium for Small Island States, and Coordinator of the Institute for Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus in Jamaica.
  • Dr. Daniel Wahl of Gaia Education recently published an article online entitled Taking the Systems View: climate change as a driver of SDG implementation. They also invite you to join a self-paced, online program on ​”Designing for Sustainability: Introducing the Big Picture of Co-Creating a Thriving Future.” Read more and sign up here.
  • The Amazon Summer School published a final report on their 2016 sessions.
  • The Stockholm Resilience Center posted a research fellow placement for The World in 2050 initiative (TWI2050). The deadline to apply is January 31.
  • The Generation Yes campaign was initiated by ClimateWorks Australia and aims to showcase practical solutions to climate change.

Future Earth announced an Executive Director vacancy with a closing date for applications of February 3.


SDSN in the Media

Justin Yifu Lin and Yan Wang: Going Beyond Aid: Development Cooperation for Structural Transformation, Cambridge University Press – Dec 31, 2016

Jeffrey Sachs: Learning to Love a Multipolar WorldProject Syndicate – Dec 29, 2016

Jeffrey Sachs: Let’s Make 2017 The Year Of Ethics And MoralityForbes – Dec 28, 2016

Pavel Kabat et al.: Building Regional Water-Use Scenarios Consistent with Global Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, Environmental Processes – Dec 24, 2016

Adolf Kloke-Lesch: 2017 – After the magic of beginnings, Bonn Sustainability Portal – Dec 22, 2016

Dario Piselli, Can Agenda 2030 change the norm?, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation – Dec 14, 2016

Jeffrey Sachs, Focused global strategy needed to end child slavery by 2025Reuters – Dec 13, 2016

Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo et al. (eds.): Children and Sustainable Development – Dec 9, 2016

CB Bhattacharya and Paul PolmanSustainability Lessons From the Front Lines, MIT Sloan Management Review – Dec 8, 2016

Shaid Naeem et al.: Biodiversity and human well-being: an essential link for sustainable development, The Royal Society – Dec 7, 2016

Srinath Reddy at al.: India’s new health systems knowledge platform—making research matter, The Lancet – Dec 3, 2016

Srinath Reddy et al.: Cardiovascular Diseases on the Global Agenda, Global Heart – Dec 1, 2016

Achim Dobermann: Looking forward to 2030: Nitrogen and the Sustainable Development Goals, Proceedings of the 2016 International Nitrogen Initiative Conference – Dec 2016

Virgilio Viana: Why Brazil Needs to Rethink its Restrictions on Carbon Trading, Huffington Post – Nov 25, 2016


Upcoming SDSN Events

Book Launch: “Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair and Sustainable,” by Jeffrey D. Sachs
18 January, New York
Lead: Center on Sustainable Development

United Nations Youth Assembly
1-3 February, New York
Lead: UN Youth Assembly Committee and SDSN

View full list of Events 

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