What Works: Bridging research and policy on sustainable development

Welcome to the annual Oslo SDG Initiative conference!

Save the date conference poster


Concept note

Four years have elapsed since the introduction of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the world stage. In July 2019, several thousand delegates – government officials, civil society organizations and academics – attended the 2019 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) at UN headquarters in New York with the overall aim of discussing “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. An overall conclusion at the 2019 HLPF, as in previous years, was that the pace of action on achieving the SDGs is slow and that a sense of urgency was needed if the SDGs were to be achieved by the 2030 deadline. Accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is also at the core of the SDG summit organized at UN Headquarters in September 2019. But not all is doom and gloom. At this conference, we wish to bridge the gap between research and policy and better understand what is working, where, how and why.


Our aim is 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. What is the state of policymaking on the SDGs, and how best can we achieve policy coherence across sectors? While businesses 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. The sessions will highlight 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 to a wider audience and engaging in a discussion on how best to achieve policy coherence. Each of these thematic sessions will begin with a brief introductory overview of the issues before the moderator engages in a discussion with a panel of experts and stakeholders.



Preliminary programme

Monday, 14 October

Session 1: Achieving the SDGs: The Role of Politics and Finance 

09:00-09:15: Welcome

Rector, University of Oslo (TBC)

Director, Oslo SDG Initiative, University of Oslo

09:15-10:15: Political commitment for the SDGs

Aksel Jakobsen (State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway)

Camilla Brückner (Director of UNDP's Nordic Office)

Erik Solheim (former minister of development and environment, former head of UNEP)

Kathrine Sund-Henriksen (Director, The Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment)

Moderator: Professor Dan Banik, University of Oslo and Director of Oslo SDG Initiative

10:15-10:20: Break

10:20-11:20: Financing the SDGs

Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (TBC) (Minister of Trade and Industry, Norway)

Johan Andresen (owner of Ferd and Chair of the Council of Ethics for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global)

Mari Sundli Tveit (Policy director, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, NHO)

Jens Wandel (TBC) Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General

Moderator: Professor Dan Banik, University of Oslo and Director of Oslo SDG Initiative

11:20-11:30: Break

11:30-12:10: Governance for SDG integration: SDG 16 as an enabler

Panel organised by the Oslo Governance Centre, UNDP

12:10-13:00: Lunch

Session 2: Thematic panels


13:00-14:00: The role of energy and infrastructure in reaching social, environmental and economic development

Andrés Luque-Ayala (Associate Professor, Durham University)

Arve Hansen (Post-doctoral fellow, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo) 
Karina Standal (Senior researcher, CICERO) 
Kacper Szulecki (Researcher, Dept. of Political Science, University of Oslo)
Hanna Havnevik (TBC) (Professor. Dept. of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo)

Moderator: Professor Tanja Winther, University of Oslo

14:00-14:10: Break

14:10-15:10: Agriculture, food security and SDG 2

Ruth Haug (Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, NMBU)

Ola Westengen (Associate Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, NMBU)

15:10-15:20: Break

15:20-16:20: What works in global health?

Kjersti Koffeld (Senior advocacy advisor, Save the Children Norway)

Ingrid Warner (TBC) (Managing Director, Leidar Consulting)

Karine Nordstrand (TBC) (Global health director at the Public Health Institute & President of MSF Norway)

Fredrik Kristensen (TBC) (Deputy CEO, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation)

Moderator: Katerini Storeng, Associate professor, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo)

16:20-16:30: Summary

16:30: Reception

Tuesday, 15 October

Session 3: Knowledge for Sustainable Development

09:00-09:15: Introduction

Dan Banik (Professor, University of Oslo and Director of Oslo SDG Initiative)

Tale Kvalvaag (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Norad)

09:15-10:00: The role and impact of research in policy 

Short presentations followed by a discussion

  • Tax for development, Odd-Helge Fjeldstad (Research Professor, Chr. Michelsen Institute)
  • Capacity building in law faculties, Anne Hellum (Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo)
  • EnPe - Bioenergy, Trine Hvoslef-Eide (Professor of Applied Plant Biotechnology, NMBU)

Moderator: Professor Sidsel Roalkvam, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo (TBC)

Panel discussion

10:00-10:55: Ensuring the uptake of research findings in policy formulation

Svein Bæra, MFA

10:55-11:05: Break

11:05-12:00: Disseminating research to policymakers

Discussion with scholars, journalists and policymakers (TBC)

12:00: Lunch

Published Sep. 16, 2019 9:06 AM - Last modified Sep. 16, 2019 12:35 PM