Annual Oslo SDG Conference
We were delighted to host our inaugural annual conference on 14-15 October. Our aim was to go beyond the usual rhetoric and engage with political and business leaders as well as academics and activists in an effort to nuance the discourse on political commitment, financing and implementation of the SDGs. In particular, we wished to better understand how, and to what extent, scientific evidence shapes and influences political decision-making on climate and development policy.
Minister of Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen gave the opening remarks on political commitment for the SDGs during the Oslo SDG Initiative's inaugural annual conference. Photo: Kaja Elise Gresko/UiO
The role of politics and finance
The first session, attended by the Norwegian Minister of Climate and the Environment, Ola Elvestuen, focused on the extent to which the international political discourse has changed since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. The ensuing discussions highlighted the current status of policymaking on the SDGs in Norway and abroad, and how best policy coherence can be achieved across sectors. The focus of the second session was the current status of development finance available to achieve the SDGs. While the private sector in many countries appear to have embraced specific SDGs, there are growing concerns that integrating development and environmental goals may not be as mutually supportive in practice as is often claimed. In particular, the panellists discussed how foreign aid ought to be reshaped to better provide financing for the SDGs and the importance of developing new private-public partnerships aimed at supporting national governments in implementing the SDGs.
Policy coherence and research uptake
The remaining sessions on day 1 highlighted the role of governance (SDG 16) for greater integration between the 17 goals as well as three thematic sessions –on energy, food and health – aimed at disseminating recent and cutting-edge research findings on specific SDGs and engaging in a discussion on how best to achieve policy coherence. Each of these thematic sessions began with a brief introductory overview of the issues before the moderator engaged in a discussion with a panel of experts and stakeholders. The role and impact of research on policy formulation and implementation was the focus of day 2 of the conference. The panels, comprising of policymakers, civil society representatives, scholars and students discussed how best research findings can be made more attractive for the attention of policymakers. Several panels also highlighted the challenges and opportunities for improved research communication on sustainable development.