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SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Building global partnerships in New York

UiB's new Vice-Rector for Global Relations, Annelin Eriksen, chose New York as the destination for her first international trip after being appointed. In New York she met with diplomats and United Nations officials.

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UiB's Vice-Rector for Global Relations Annelin Eriksen and Professor Edvard Hviding in front of the symbols for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the United Nations building in New York.
A SUSTAINABLE DUO: UiB's Vice-Rector for Global Relations Annelin Eriksen and Professor Edvard Hviding in front of the symbols for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the United Nations building in New York.

On 11 to 13 December 2017, Vice-Rector Annelin Eriksen visited New York on a brief tour of the United Nations system. Along with Professor Edvard Hviding, the new Vice-Rector for Global Relations followed up on initiatives the University of Bergen (UiB) committed to during the United Nations Ocean Conference in June 2017, when Professor Hviding was part of a UiB delegation which successfully entered into several voluntary commitments with partners globally.

Entering into science diplomacy

In June 2017, UiB held several meetings with parties in the UN system on the sidelines of the Ocean Conference, and this was a direct precursor to the pre-Christmas visit to New York.

“We travelled to New York on the basis of an invitation from Norway's Mission to the UN to develop dialogues for research-based advice and to explore more general channels for science diplomacy connected with the UN's work towards the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs,” says Vice-Rector Eriksen.

The 17 SDGs tie in neatly with the UiB strategy 2016-2022 – Ocean, Life, Society. Eriksen believes the New York trip was particularly useful for underlining the strong connection between research and knowledge to support the SDGs.

“Through a series of meeting in the UN system and various diplomatic missions, we were able to find common ground on how the university sector can and must be involved in the work towards sustainability and the goals set in the UN's Agenda 2030,” explains the Vice-Rector, “it is also important to build a better science-policy interface for the SDGs to succeed.”

Hectic activity in 2018

“In particular I would like to highlight the excellent dialogues we had with the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), as well as with ambassadors and advisers of Norway's Mission to the UN, where we made concrete commitments for future collaborations,” says Eriksen.

The Vice-Rector believes that 2018 will be a hectic year for both the UiB leadership and the university's researchers to engage in science diplomacy and strengthening the science-policy interface.

“In our meetings with UN-DESA we received valuable information about what will be the prime SDG focus over the next 12 months for various actors in the UN system. There will be a considerable number of high level-meetings, where advice from science and higher education is highly valued,” she says, “in these arenas universities need to be present and ensure that political decisions are based on scientific knowledge.”

Increased awareness on the SDGs

Vice-Rector Eriksen in particular looks forward to the challenge of engaging as many UiB researchers as possible in SDG-related scientific advice.

“During 2018 our university will implement a number of strategic measures to map and engage our research and education communities on SDG-related issues,” she says.

She promises to actively follow up on the various 2017 New York dialogues in her new role as Vice-Rector for Global Relations at UiB.

“I will take a direct initiative towards our researchers and encourage them to make proposals directed at UN meetings,” says Vice-Rector Annelin Eriksen.

The first big event in Bergen is a major national SDG conference on 8 and 9 February, with UiB hosting the university and higher education sector in Norway to explore how the sector can contribute to the SDGs. The conference represents the basis for a broader effort towards research on and for the SDGs over the years to come.