Highlight 9/2021 – Scientific Cooperation Is the Key to Achieving SDGs
Mend-Amar Biniye, 12 March 2021
About 70 thousand years ago, we started to distinguish ourselves from primates by possessing knowledge. The fire was the great revolution of knowledge and the flame of science made mankind a new master of the world. There is no doubt that these great discoveries such as the domestication of wild animals, the development of agriculture, and advanced modern technologies have contributed greatly into making our lives easier and comfortable. However, there is still a question that we need to ask from ourselves: are we benefiting equally from these opportunities provided by science?
Today, we are able to produce more than enough food and necessary medicines for everyone in the world. Several hundred million tons of food that are perfectly edible and nutritious are thrown away for waste while others die from starvation. Life expectancy in the developed countries has almost reached three times higher than in the least developed countries. Furthermore, due to climate change, we are witnessing the great loss of animal biodiversity and the stratospheric ozone depletion that has not been seen by our generations. All these factors are causing deathly natural disasters, and regularly occurring contagious diseases which threaten our lives.
For those reasons, the United Nations (UN) member states unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, setting a very ambitious vision to accomplish 17 goals by the year of 2030. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of the SDGs worsened. It makes our progress lag far behind what we planned.
Due to the pandemic, the number of people who are at the risk of starvation has doubled into 270 million, 495 million full-time jobs were lost, and 320 children have dropped out of school.These made it even more difficult to achieve the key objectives of the SDGs such as the eradication of poverty, zero hunger, and creating a quality education. Therefore, the UN system declared a Decade of Action, calling for accelerating efforts towards achieving the SDGs.
To tackle global challenges and achieving the SDGs more effectively, decision makers need to rethink the role of science and take the following actions:
- Create a scientific fund for research to support the development of environment-friendly and sustainable technologies. For example, the production of electronic cars has enabled reduce significant amount of CO2 emissions.
- Take into account scientific research at the decision-making level for tackling global challenges and achieving the SDGs. Decisions based on scientific study will not only save manpower, costs, and time, but also these will solve problems in the most effective way.
- Utilize advanced technologies to accelerate actions through distance learning and telecommunication. For this purpose, we need to invest more in improving access to the internet, computers, and smartphones, especially in remote areas.
- Improve the cooperation of scientific institutions by creating an integrated platform such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to establish a common understanding between stakeholders.
Thanks to science, once again, we are in a great hope of overcoming a challenge of the COVID-19. As vaccines have proven to be effective, we will soon be able to return to our normal lives. This is not the end of our challenges but it is only the beginning of many more to come. Science should be involved as a key factor.
Mend-Amar BINIYE, Scientific Cooperation Is the Key to Achieving SDGs, Highlight 9/2021, available at www.meig.ch
The views expressed in the MEIG Highlights are personal to the author and neither reflect the positions of the MEIG Programme nor those of the University of Geneva.