Influencing the Sustainable Development Goals

On August 22-24th Mistra Urban Futures new Director Professor David Simon hosted the Urban Sustainable Development Goal Targets & Indicators high level meeting at the Royal Holloway University of London.

One of the initiators to and participants of this meeting was Thomas Elmqvist, Professor and Steering committee for Stockholm Resilience Centre as well as one of Mistra Urban Futures board members.

Thomas Elmqvist, can you tell us a bit about the background?

- The Open Working Group had signaled that they would like to see a much larger engagement of the science community in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) process, particularly in developing the targets and the indicators. I thought that the urban research community should be mobilized in assisting in this and increase the scientific credibility of both the targets and indicators.
What was the main purpose of the meeting?

- To give a scientific input on targets and indicators and discuss how the urban goal is related to other goals. In addition to work out a strategy for how to pursue an urban agenda both in case of the urban SDG being approved by the UN General Assembly and in the more unlikely situation it will not.

 Who were invited?

- Members from the Sustainable Solutions Network, scientists from many different disciplines, representatives from ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, UCLG - United Cities and Local Governments, UN-Habitat, cities and other important stakeholders.

In what sense did the meeting make the SDG process come forward?

- We were able to critically review the proposed targets and indicators and suggest well founded modifications and corrections. We also managed to agree on a future agenda for the urban community in the process.
What are the next steps?

- To present our critical review to the UN General Assembly in late September and then through 2-3 similar meetings develop the framing, targets and indicators further.

Why was this meeting important for Mistra Urban Futures?

- One of the important goals of Mistra Urban Futures is to become a significant actor on the global urban arena providing knowledge and insights to help guide the process.

I think it is important that Mistra Urban Futures continue to be deeply engaged in this global process as well as engage in the now emerging urban research platform within Future Earth. By doing so and by contributing with highly relevant and crucial knowledge, Mistra Urban Futures will become a respected and productive partner in the process of implementing urban sustainability across the globe.

Read more

Sustainable Development Goals
Open Working Group
UN finds world's population is increasingly urban


Photo 1: Fruitful discussions at the meeting.
Photo 2: David Simon, Mistra Urban Futures and Royal Holloway University of London, Aromar Revi, SDSN/IIHS,      Thomas Elmqvist, SRC and Mistra Urban Futures board member and Susan Parnell, University of Cape Town and Mistra Urban Futures.
Photo 3: Shagun Mehrotra, SDSN/New School, participating via video conference.
Photo 4: Thomas Elmqvist, Jessica Algehed, David Simon, Susan Parnell, Zarina Patel and Ulrica Gustafsson, all Mistra Urban Futures representatives.
Photo 5: Peter Head, SDSN/Ecosequestration Trust (foreground) and other participants engaged in discussion.
Portrait: Thomas Elmqvist, SRC and Mistra Urban Futures board member.