Achieving SDGs with the help of Science

Mar 30, 2017

Participants of the Dialogue on Science and Science Policy for the SDGs in the Pacific Small Island Developing States, Apia, Samoa. Photo credit: UNESCO/2017

A high level Dialogue on Science and Science Policy for the SDGs in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) organised by UNESCO took place on 29 and 30 March 2017 in Apia, Samoa. The two-day forum provided an opportunity for Ministers, policymakers and researchers from Pacific Island Countries and regional organisations in the Pacific to share and exchange information on the needs and priorities of their respective countries for science, technology and innovation (ST&I) systems. 

The Dialogue also enabled participants to address an existing gap between policy-makers in the Pacific SIDS, and science advice, including specific needs for ST&I advice that would contribute to evidence based policy-making. The meeting also considered relevant national and regional mechanisms and policies that could either be put in place or updated to support these efforts.

Speaking at the opening session of the meeting, Ms. Lizbeth Cullity, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Apia, Samoa congratulated UNESCO and its partners on the timely convening of the Dialogue. She also acknowledged that many member States have joined the world’s scientific community in recognising that the Sustainable Development Goals can only be reached if nations were serious about tracking them. 

“The Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 is much more focused on the provision of evidence-informed progress, and to have evidence we need to collect data,” said Ms. Cullity. 

“With great rigor, we need to establish locally where we are now with baselines and what indicators we can use and how we can best collect statistics to be able to prove that we are making headway and progress on these 17 goals,” she added.

Speaking about the process to finalise the next 5-year UN strategic framework for the Pacific, which included national consultations between the UN Pacific Team and 14 Pacific island countries in 2016 , Ms Cullity confirmed that there continued to be clear support for the 2030 Agenda’s goal to leave no one behind. She also acknowledged efforts being made at the national level in localising the SDGs, including plans to implement and monitor progress to achieving them. 

“Science can and should guide planning, policy-making, institution-building, capacity-building and implementation for all the SDGs,” said Ms Cullity, noting that science, technology and innovation are also engines of sustainable economic development in their own right. 

The Resident Coordinator also added that it was “crucial to continue to develop the Pacific’s own capacity to generate and harvest the knowledge, including traditional knowledge, necessary to address Pacific problems.” 

The meeting was organised by UNESCO, the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA), and Samoa’s National Commission for UNESCO, the National University of Samoa, and the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa with the support of the Government of New Zealand. It was well attended by policymakers and researchers from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu as well as ministers responsible for education from Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu and Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO . Pacific regional organisations - the Pacific Community, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the University of the South Pacific - were also represented. 

 

Contact information

Ms. Desna Solofa, UN Coordination Specialist, E-mail: desna.solofa@one.un.org - Phone: (685) 23670 ext. 34