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SDG Conference is to be annual event

At the SDG Conference Bergen, Rector Dag Rune Olsen promised to make the University of Bergen climate neutral by 2030. The university will also host an annual conference on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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The University of Bergen's Rector Dag Rune Olsen speaking at the opening of the SDG Bergen Conference 2018.

On 8 and 9 February 2018, the University Aula of Bergen was the arena for the first SDG Conference Bergen. The University of Bergen (UiB) hosted the university and research sector in Norway to discuss the sector's contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Research.

An annual event

“We want to turn the SDG Conference Bergen into an annual event,” said UiB's Rector Dag Rune Olsen in his opening address, “this will be an arena for debate on the SDGs and to discuss the science-policy interface.”

In her closing address Vice-Rector for Global Affairs, Annelin Eriksen, elaborated on the Rector's opening address. The ambition is to keep the discussion going continuously, not the least to raise awareness in the university sector on how to provide input to government and international organisations on the science to underpin the SDGs.

To underline the link between the science community and politics, three members of the Norwegian government were present at the SDG Bergen Conference 2018: Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Research and Higher Education Minister Iselin Nybø, and International Development Minister Nikolai Astrup.

Action, not words

“We cannot reach the SDGs without a substantial contribution from higher education and research institutions. Here in Bergen words are followed by action,” said Ms Nybø in her opening speech.

“Universities, academia and researchers play a key role,” said Ms Solberg in her key note address about implementing the SDGs.

“We will not be able to move ahead at the pace we need, if we do not harness these resources. Creative environments such as these are needed to break barriers and move ahead in all areas, such as green technology, health, governance. To mention a few.”

In particular the Prime Minister addressed the younger generations in her key note.

“But public research is not enough, we also need to engage the private sector for breakthrough technologies and working methods. Vaccination is a good example,” said Ms Solberg. “And it is why it is so important to engage young people, such as students in the SDG work. We need their creativity.”