Side Event at the High-level Political Forum: Innovation to Overcome COVID-19 and Accelerate the Transformative Pathways to Achieve the SDGs, 7 July 2020

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The High-level Political Forum in July 2020 under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) follows the theme “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development “. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the world into turmoil, disrupting the status quo to an extent that has seldom been experienced before. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Vienna Energy Forum, and The World in 2050 (TWI2050) initiative by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) are organizing a High-level Political Forum 2020 Side Event on Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a Sustainable Recovery.

Innovation has been the foundation of human and societal development since the dawn of civilization. While it has resulted in enormous benefits for human wellbeing, the unconstrained development of innovation has placed societies and ecosystems at risk. Technology’s disassociation with societal, institutional and cultural-related innovation has, to this day, affected its efficiency in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

While the current COVID-19 pandemic threatens the achievement of the SDGs, it also disrupts the global status quo and, thus, provides an opportunity to create sustainable societies for all and mitigate environmental impact at all scales. When properly directed, economic stimulus packages have the potential to ignite and leverage innovation in technology, behaviors, and institutions to guide humanity towards sustainability. 

During this session, IIASA will launch its third TWI2050 report “Innovation for Sustainability: Patwhays to an efficient post-pandemic future.” The report focuses on accelerating the deployment and diffusion of innovations to achieve a transformation towards the SDGs, providing a broad framing for the event, followed by a sector example.

UNIDO has a long track-record of supporting sustainable innovation and will present its action-oriented expertise across regions. The Vienna Energy Forum — co-organized by UNIDO, IIASA and the Austrian Government — has gathered thinkers and practitioners from all over the world to discuss practical solutions to sustainable development challenges. In this respect, the VEF has been instrumental in the formulation of the energy-related targets embedded in SDG7 (affordable and clean energy), and will continue to serve as a platform to meet salient energy challenges moving forward.

The event will also highlight the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC) as an innovative south-south and triangular partnership to accelerate the energy and climate transformation in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). For example, the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) has published COVID-19 recommendations for energy and climate policy makers in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

During this HLPF side event, scientists, policymakers and UN experts will engage in a discussion with the audience on how to innovatively rebuild from the COVID-19 induced crisis.

Date & Time: July 7, 14:00-15:00

Registration is required to attend this virtual event. Please register below. You will then receive the meeting link and password. 

Opening remarks (5min) Johan Rockstroem, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, TWI2050 author

Presentations (7min each):

•Launch of TWI2050 report “Innovations for Sustainability”, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, IIASA, TWI2050 author

•Innovations in the Health Sector, Kristie Ebi, University of Washington, TWI2050 author (invited)

•Accelerating Recovery through Sustainable Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support, Tareq Emtairah, UNIDO

•Achieving the SDGs, Jeff Sachs, SDSN, TWI2050 author (invited)

Discussion with the audience

Organizers and co-organizers: 

•United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
•International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Further information: