Launch of SDSN Northern Europe!

With one Prime Minister saying that this is the right thing to do, and not only one or two, but an impressive array of business leaders expressing that they are all in, SDSN NE couldn´t get a better public start. This is an evident conclusion of the High-level Launch Event in Gothenburg, Sweden, on February 26th.

In the crowd of international researchers, that met the day ahead of this even bigger event, you could of course hear reflections concerning the potential of this more or less newcomer among networks, Sustainable Development Solutions Network Northern Europe, SDSN NE. After Day 2 of the Launch Event, these kind of questions must be dead.

“We have to share the responsibility for taking the right path to a sustainable and prosperous future”, said the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, “and you are showing us the right way.”

Facing the force of almost 400 top leaders within academia, business, financing and politics, gathered in one room, the Minister was in excellent spirits, as were the speaking CEOs. The aim of the SDSN network to turn down barriers started already from the podium:

“What about a “ménage à trois” to reduce automotive friction?”, the SKF CEO, Alrik Danielson, asked his colleagues from Volvo and SCANIA. “Deal”, were the immediate answers.

From the Danish world leading healthcare company, Novo Nordisk, came an offer through Program Director Anne Gadegaard, to join in the company´s struggle for better public access to health care in big cities. “Deal”, again.

Diana Amini, Global Manager of H&M Foundation, told about remarkable results through online voting. 120 000 digitally voting customers worldwide decided that education ought to be H&M Foundation´s number one sustainable focus, followed by strengthening women and Clean water. Again using social media the company gathered 2 700 entries from 112 countries in their Global Change Award, and the winner was Alto University in Finland.

Now Diana Amini wanted everyone to back up and join H&M Foundation in launching an open source network for innovators. “Thumbs up”.

Both Day 1 and Day 2 of the SDSN NE Launch Event showed that there is knowledge enough, and there is a strong will within the several stakeholder groups to find ways to cooperation beyond “the old money transaction-days”. But, as said by the top leaders within academia, professor Johan Rockström, Director Stockholm Resilience Centre, and professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director SDSN and Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, “it´s urgent!”.

Like many of the other speakers from the Scandinavian countries and abroad, they asked for co-created solutions for pathways forward that transform how we plan, produce and consume. It´s not only about the planet, it´s about people. With the words from the Prime Minister, “an equal society performs best – taking this into account is good business”.

The SDSN NE network indeed succeeded in creating a good public start, but what about the next steps?

In their summary of two long days packed with engagement among “top, top thinkers”, Director Katarina Gårdfeldt, and Program Officer, Darko Manakovski, listed coming needs:

  • Transform the role of academia to a stakeholder on equal level with business, as an enabler for the implementation of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).
  • Differentiate the SDGs to national and European realities and capacities to develop pathways for transformation cross the entire agenda.
  • Adapt the efforts and the contribution from science to the national agendas and the ambitions of government, business and civil society.
  • Map out challenges and solutions, financial flows and what results that are already there and what need to be found out.
  • Guide industry and policymakers to navigate the inherent complexity of the implementation of the SDG by science-based decisions.
  • Facilitate existing networks, actors and initiatives to break down barriers, and implement solutions for sustainable development at scale, at local, European and global level.
  • Engage with follow-up and review and develop innovative big data interfaces that allow stakeholders and civil society to use statistics for informed decisions, as well as contribute with data.

In the steps ahead the SDSN Northern Europe also aims to engage more universities in northern Europe in order to meet the needs of industry and society with tailored solutions based on knowledge.


SDSN logotype