SDG Bergen

About SDG Bergen

SDG Bergen is a science diplomacy initiative to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals. It was a strategic initiative at the University of Bergen 2018-2021.

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The University of Bergen (UiB) is one of Norway's leading comprehensive research universities. UiB has always been globally oriented, with long-standing research collaboration throughout the world.

Recognising the key significance of the 2030 Agenda, in 2017 the University of Bergen (UiB) launched a university-wide strategic initiative called SDG Bergen to critically engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), spearheaded by the university's participation in the United Nations Ocean Conference and entering into several voluntary commitments with partner institutions. The initiative ran between 2018-2021 and included the SDG Bergen Science Advice service and the virtual Ocean Sustainability Bergen centre, to engage particularly with SDG14, Life below water). SDG Bergen was also the secretariat for the annual SDG Conference Bergen.


As part of the SDG Bergen initiative, SDG Bergen Science Advice (SDG BSA) was established to address and develop the science-policy nexus. SDG Bergen Science Advice's Scientific Director was Professor Edvard Hviding. The group included prominent researchers and senior advisers in communication and international cooperation. The premise for SDG BSA was to find a common ground between the UN system, diplomatic missions, national authorities and the university sector to be involved in global sustainability.

Working towards science diplomacy

Science diplomacy is a term used for scientific cooperation to build international partnerships. As well as international collaboration between scientific institutions such partnerships may encompass nation states, diplomacy, government agencies, voluntary organisations, and business. There is a common ground between the UN system, various diplomatic missions and the university sector to be involved in work geared towards sustainability and the goals set in the 2030 Agenda.

The University of Bergen established SDG BSA to encourage the university's researchers to engage in science diplomacy, science advice and to strengthen the science-policy nexus. UiB made a strategic decision to work for universities to be present in international high-level meetings, and SDG BSA spearheaded this work both nationally and internationally on behalf of the university. The aim of SDG BSA was to engage as many UiB researchers as possible in science diplomacy and scientific advice in relation to the 2030 Agenda.

Historic background for SDG BSA

In June 2017, the University of Bergen (UiB) held several meetings with parties in the United Nations (UN) system on the sidelines of the Ocean Conference. During the conference, the university entered into several voluntary commitments with partner institutions. This prepared the ground for a direct link to the Norwegian 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 (SDGs).

In July 2018, representing the National Committee for the 2030 Agenda, the University of Bergen was the first academic institution to be part of the official Norwegian delegation to the high-level political forum (HLPF) at the UN. As part of this, the university contributed with briefs and speeches during HLPF. In December 2018, UiB and SDG Bergen co-hosted the official Norwegian side event at COP24 in Katowice, along with Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, and the University of the South Pacific.

In July 2019, the University of Bergen sent its own delegation to HLPF and also worked close with the global university network International Association of Universities (IAU) to make sure that the voice of science is heard during the ongoing implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Professor Hviding headed the delegation and also worked closely with IAU towards the UN system to secure a consultative stakeholder space for the organisation at future HLPF events, not the least for direct participation in plenary debates. On behalf of the University of Bergen, SDG BSA co-arranged an official side event at HLPF with the UN missions of Norway, Fiji, Palau and St. Lucia with a special look at the science-policy nexus between SDG13 and SDG17 – climate action and partnerships for the goals respectively.

In October 2019, SDG BSA co-hosted a side event with IOC-UNESCO and the UN mission of Palau at Our Ocean 2019 on the ongoing biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) process, which concludes in 2020.

In July 2021, SDG BSA co-sponsored an official side event on educating the future leaders in ocean science at the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) with United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI).


Ocean Sustainability Bergen (OSB) was a virtual and multidisciplinary research centre (2018-2021) created as a strategic tool by the University of Bergen (UiB) to provide research for a sustainable ocean, working with partner institutions worldwide. OSB's Scientific Directors were Professor Peter M. Haugan (2018-2019) and Professor Lise Øvreås (2019-2021).

The centre's aim was to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and was part of the university's strategic initiative SDG Bergen, which presented scientific advice to governments and international bodies to aid them in decision-making processes. The overall goal was to strengthen the science-policy interface and to ensure that political decisions are better informed by science. With this centre, UiB made research and science diplomacy a key part of Norway's contribution towards a sustainable ocean, as part of the UN's 2030 Agenda.

For a hectic period of close to four years, the centre presided over events including:

  • the annual Ocean Sustainability Bergen Conference (2019-2021)
  • the first Norwegian university to host an official OceanTeacher Global Academy (OTGA) course on behalf of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) to coincide with the UN Ocean Decade (2021-2030)
  • a joint SDG14 publication with the International Association of Universities (IAU)
  • numerous official side events at conferences and high-level meetings

OSB administered the university’s status as SDG14 Hub for United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and leading the SDG14 cluster for the International Association of Universities (IAU), heading a consortium of ten world-leading marine universities to spearhead ocean science within the 2030 Agenda.


As the first Norwegian university to institutionalise the 2030 Agenda, UiB organised the inaugural, high-level SDG Conference Bergen in February 2018, on behalf of the university sector in Norway and in cooperation with Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education and Research.

The 2018 SDG Conference Bergen was the first of its kind worldwide, and brought together more than 300 researchers, educators, politicians, government and UN officials, civil society, and industry representatives to discuss how universities can contribute on the science-policy nexus required for the goals of the 2030 Agenda. The conference laid the foundation for Norwegian universities to engage their researchers in innovative channels for science diplomacy.