UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)- SDG Mobilization Day Side Event (September 16th 2023)- “Accelerating Multilateralism with Transformations in Science Policy Practice Interfaces”

SDG Action Weekend Side Event

Accelerating Multilateralism with Transformations in Science Policy Practice Interfaces:

Watch Recording on the SDG Academy Library.

Location: UN Headquarters, New York, USA, Conference Room (CR) 12

Date: 16 September 2023

Time: 14:15-15:45 New York Time

Sustainable Development Solutions Network, The Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations, The Permanent Mission of New Zealand to the United Nations, UNESCO,  International Science Council (ISC), in collaboration with United Nations Academic Impact, Dag Hammarskjöld UN Library, and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

Event Summary

The political declaration to be adopted at the SDG Summit highlights the critical need to leverage innovations in science and technology, education and data to achieve sustainable development. Specifically, capacity building in LDCs and SIDS in these areas is vitally important to ensure progress for all.  This side event outlines the crucial role of the science-technology-policy-practice interfaces, including traditional knowledge, towards implementing effective capacity building partnerships to achieve the SDGs. It highlights the need for building capacity in LDCs and SIDS. The current expertise and knowledge needed to achieve the SDGs is immense – but we need a stronger Global Science Commons to create a sustainable operating space for all of humanity. Knowledge is not always free to access or oriented to the public good. Open science, data, and OER for the SDGs needs to be the norm. Science and innovation must be incentivized to build capacities in institutions in LDCs and SIDS using partnerships in the Science-Policy-Practice arena  to achieve these objectives.


David Donoghue, Former PR of Ireland to the UN in New York, co-facilitator of the IGN on the 2030 Agenda, Member of the SDSN Leadership Council

Run of Show

Opening Remarks

  • Carolyn Schwalger, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the UN
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

Presentations by Speakers

  • Imme Scholz, Co-chair of the independent group of scientists, UN GSDR 2023
  • Nyovani Madise, Director of Research and Head of Malawi Office, African Institute for Development Policy
  • Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director of UNITAR
  • Thanos Giannakopoulos, Chief, Dag Hammarskjöld UN Library
  • Jayashri Sarah Wyatt, Chief, Education Outreach Section, United Nations Academic Impact ( UN AI)
  • Maria Esteli Jarquin, International Science Council (ISC)
  • Patrick Paul Walsh, University College Dublin and SDSN.
  • Sharon Memis, Secretary General, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions  (IFLA)
  • Brighton Kaoma, Global Director, SDSN Youth

Closing  Remarks

  • Ambassador Fergal Mythen, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN

Contacts for Questions;  SDG Academy –  Patrick Paul Walsh, ppwalsh@ucd.ie / paul.walsh@unsdsn.org Amber Webb, amber.webb@unsdsn.org / Helen Perham, helen.perham@unsdsn.org

Key Issues discussed

The side event stressed the critical role of trust in science,  data and education for successful policy induced transformations. Partnerships and collaboration across nations in advancing this agenda was highlighted.

The event featured diverse panelists who shared their perspectives and experiences on Science-Policy-Practice Partnerships. The side event  emphasized the need for new funding approaches to science and called for equitable partnerships between high and low-income countries.

The discussions at the SDG Action Weekend underscored the complexities and challenges of accelerating multilateralism in the context of the SDGs. Traditional multilateralism, characterized by leaders around tables, faces limitations,  however, the event showcased stakeholder partnerships can change the landscape of multilateralism, with academia, universities, business networks, and young leaders stepping up to facilitate the science policy interface with the UN system and Governments.

The SDG Action Weekend served as a beacon of hope and collaboration in the pursuit of sustainable development. It highlighted the indispensable role of science and the importance of Science-Policy-Practice Partnerships in realizing the SDGs. The key takeaways emphasized the need for inclusive approaches and capacity building, across nations. . As the clock ticks towards the 2030 deadline, it is evident that science and multilateral partnerships will continue to be pivotal in shaping our collective future. By fostering trust, collaboration, and equitable access to knowledge, we can overcome obstacles and accelerate our progress toward a more sustainable world.

Key recommendations

Partnerships are Crucial: Science-Policy-Practice Partnerships were identified as integral to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Education and Training are essential: Universities, schools, vocational training institutions, and research institutes play pivotal roles in building SPI capacity at all levels of governance.

Focus on Vulnerable Nations: Special attention must be given to capacity building in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), where resources are often limited.

Open Science, Data and Open Education Resources (OER) for Equitable Policymaking: The transition from competition to collaboration was advocated, with calls for increased access to open science, data  and OER to facilitate inclusive and equitable policymaking and solutions. This called for the establishment of an open science, data, OER,  infrastructure prioritizing the public good, which would require adequate funding.

Increased Funding: There is an urgent need for increased funding, not only for scientific research but also for research related to the SDGs and transformation. Adequate funding ensures that policymakers can effectively utilize scientific findings in decision-making processes.

If applicable, please include the link to any commitments registered with the SDG Summit Acceleration and Accountability Platform: https://sdgs.un.org/SDGSummitActions.


Background on SDG Action Weekend:  16th  – 17th  September 2023

 Civil society, the private sector, youth, women, scientists, local and regional governments and other stakeholders all have a key role in the implementation of the SDGs. Their participation, contributions and catalytic mobilization will be essential to the success of the SDG Summit and its follow-up.

To generate additional opportunities for the engagement of all actors, the United Nations is convening an SDG Action Weekend on 16-17 September 2023 which will consist of the SDG Mobilization Day on Saturday, 16 September, and the SDG Acceleration Day on Sunday, 17 September, at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The SDG Mobilization Day (16 September) will create an opportunity for stakeholders from all sectors to convene inside the United Nations Headquarters and mobilize towards an ambitious SDG Summit and UN General Assembly High-Level Week. The SDG Acceleration Day (17 September) will be centred around the UN High-Impact Initiatives.  Please click here to view the full programme of the SDG Action Weekend.