SDG Bergen

The university sector demands action on SDGs

Moving from inaction to action was the overarching theme at the third national SDG Conference Bergen in February 2020. The debate was on what role technology can play to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Professor Peter Messerli giving the Bergen SDG Lecture at the 2020 SDG Conference Bergen.
FIRST BERGEN SDG LECTURE: Professor Peter Messerli giving the Bergen SDG Lecture at the 2020 SDG Conference Bergen.
Paul S. Amundsen for the University of Bergen

Main content

More than 300 delegates from the university sector met decision-makers from politics, departments, local government, industry, civil society and student organisations for the third national SDG Conference Bergen. Taking place between 5-7 February 2020 the conference theme was Action/Inaction: Technologies and Partnerships.

One of the new features of the conference is the Bergen SDG Lecture. For the inaugural lecture the co-chair of the Global Development Sustainability Report (GSDR), Professor Peter Messerli from the University of Bern was invited to speak.

  • Find a PDF of Messerli's presentation further down in article.

Sounding the alarm bell

“There is a need to scale up and accelerate the implementation of the SDGs,” said Messerli and was sounding the alarm bell, “the indicators show that we are not off-track but actually backtracking in CO2, biodiversity, inequality, etc. Business as usual is not an option.”

He then asked a key question: What is the role of science?

“We have a lot of science; from the IPCC, the World Bank, etc. But this alone is not enough. How does the science fit with policy-making,” he asked, “has science done a too modest job to solve the problems?”

Three calls for action

Messerli pointed to the process of SDG implementation itself presenting an obstacle.

“We are talking to each other from a very far distance, through papers and reports. Can we do more than a report? Can we meet,” he asked.

The Swiss scientist ended the Bergen SDG Lecture with three calls to action for knowledge-based transformation.

“First, we need to harness existing knowledge for accelerated SDG implementation. Second, we must boost scientific knowledge in low and middle-income countries. And finally, we need to establish a ‘moon-shot’ mission for sustainability science,” said Peter Messerli.