SDG Bergen
HLPF 2021

Presenting innovative partnerships to save our ocean

The UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) meets each July, bringing together stakeholders from politics, diplomacy, civil society, industry, trade unions, academia and others to discuss progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) leading up to 2030.

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This year SDG Bergen Science Advice (SDG BSA) from the University of Bergen has united with United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) to co-sponsor the side event Partnering to Educate the Ocean Science Leaders of the Future. Taking place Tuesday 6 July, as part of the official HLPF programme.

Urgent need for ocean literacy

The University of Bergen was recently appointed for a second 3-year period (2021-2024) as UNAI’s Hub for SDG14, Life below water.

“We met up with UNAI earlier this year, digitally of course, and discussed the details for this event. The event aims to present the innovations taking place in higher ocean education, not the least through partnerships,” says SDG BSA’s Scientific Director Edvard Hviding.

“We are very pleased that the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson, will deliver the opening speech. Here he will emphasize the urgent need to improve ocean literacy and argue for the importance of global partnerships to achieve all the SDGs. This will set the tone for the ensuing panel debate.”

Thomson is an honorary doctor of the University of Bergen.

Presenting an all-women panel

This is not the first time the university co-sponsors HLPF side events, but the first digital HLPF side event.

“Obviously, it’s quite a challenge to get a production like this off the ground, but at the same time conducting a digital side event gives us the opportunity to bring together participants from all over the world,” says Hviding before pointing out that the event speakers will beam in from Trinidad to Svalbard, from London to New York, from Cape Town to Bergen.

“We are delighted to be one of the very few HLPF events to boast an all-women panel, consisting of ocean scientists cutting across disciplines, age and geography. In line with Norway's practice at the UN, who always have a partner from the south as co-sponsor, we have taken care of an equal distribution between the global south and the global north in the panel,” Hviding explains.

From New York to the world

The side event will kick off from New York, with a welcome from UNAI’s Public Relations Officer Omar Hernández before Hviding takes over from Bergen to moderate and subsequently panellists are beamed in from all over the world.

“The work of our SDG Hubs is truly remarkable, and we could not be prouder of co-hosting this side event with the University of Bergen, to demonstrate their expertise on SDG14 while highlighting the need to advance the inclusion of academia in the innovative solutions we are all searching for to meet all the goals by 2030,” Hernández says.

“The knowledge and research shown by institutions of higher education is critical when we want not only no discuss but to address and solve global challenges such as those related with the protection of our oceans.”

Shedding light on the knowledge chain

This is precisely why it is crucial for policy-makers to be presented with new ideas on how to educate the ocean science leaders of the future, connecting local knowledge and global challenges by way of research and higher education.

“We share a goal with UNAI and our partners the University of Cape Town and the University of the West Indies, who all participate in the panel, to focus on the entire knowledge chain about the ocean, from local fishermen and fisherwomen's knowledge to global partnerships in research and education,” says Hviding.

Previously, the University of Bergen has co-sponsored side events at HLPF 2018 and 2019, among others in collaboration with Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, several missions to the UN and the International Association of Universities (IAU).