SDG Conference Bergen

The SDGs after the crisis – concept note

The covid-19 global pandemic crisis is not only one of health. More than ever the challenges of global sustainable development have become visible, and chief among these is inequality.

Main content

While the world has united behind the 2030 Agenda, rising global inequalities have long threatened to derail the progress made so far. Adding to this, the outbreak of covid-19 has had devastating impacts across the world. In the global South, it may very likely severely hamper development, exacerbating inequalities both within and between countries and continents. Recognizing this global fundamental challenge, the 2021 SDG Conference Bergen focuses on tackling global inequalities, relevant for all of the goals, to achieve a new path for sustainable development, after the crisis.

There are also voices that point to the new possibilities emerging after the crisis. Isolation has forced people to experiment with new digital forms of interaction, online meetings and reduction in local as well as long-haul travel. If such experiences become permanent aspects of global work-life, it may have positive effects on air pollution and CO2 emissions. With a general change in consumption behaviour and segments of industry seeing this as a possibility for real green transitions, the crisis might also be a game changer towards more climate conscious production and consumption patterns. But will this ability to adapt to or generate a new and greener economy be equally distributed? And in what ways might blindsight for inequality hinder the desired development?

In order to have a truly global discussion about these challenges, we emphasize the need to understand the multi-dimensional aspects of inequality. This requires us to look at what kind of knowledge is valued  and how knowledge and insights achieved outside of the economic and political power-centres can open for alternative perspectives on sustainable development.

Another crucial question this conference will address is the future of international health and science collaboration. There are clear signals that cross-border collaborations have been significant for handling the covid-19 crisis. But there are also strong forces using the opportunity to exit, and even sabotage, international obligations and collaborations. We ask: Are there connections between equality and how governments handle the crisis domestically and internationally?

The conference invites scholars and decisionmakers from across the world to discuss how economic, social, cultural, political, environmental and knowledge-based inequalities can be understood, challenged and addressed in a new, post-covid-19 light. This includes also the following questions: What is the effect of covid-19 on ambitions for equality? How do global inequalities and covid-19 affect the 2030 Agenda? Who decides what kinds of inequality count, in which contexts and determines the courses of action? How can we establish globally relevant ‘best practices’ and forms of global collaboration in research, sharing of knowledge and transformation? 

The 2021 SDG Conference Bergen will focus on the overall necessity of overcoming inequality, in light of the pandemic crisis.