Lecture: The UN Sustainable Development Goals: Challenges and Opportunities for Science. Presented by Emeritus Professor Michael Barber AO, FAA, FTSE.
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The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by UN member states in 2015 with the objective “to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.” While the objectives of the SDGs are not scientific, science and technology has an essential role to play in their achievement. However, science and technology alone will deliver few, if any of the goals. In this talk, Emeritus Professor Michael Barber will describe some of the challenges and opportunities for science and technology in responding to the SDGs. In particular, he will discuss:
• The intricate connectivity between the goals that demands a system wide perspective so that synergies are enhanced and negative impacts mitigated;
• Whether this connectivity implies the world is technically a ‘complex system’ and importantly whether planetary boundaries have significant implications for the achievement of the SDGs;
• How an enhanced focus on the expected outcomes of scientific projects can lead to alternative technological solutions and improved engagement with policy makers and other players who are necessary for implementation; and
• How the wide range of initiatives being stimulated by the SDGs by organisations below the level of national governments could be more effectively scaled up to efficient global responses.
Emeritus Professor Michael Barber AO, FAA, FTSE is a former vice-chancellor of Flinders University. Since retiring at the end of 2014 he has continued his engagement with Australian and international science and science policy. Currently, he is a Council member (and Treasurer) of the Australian Academy of Science and Chair of the National Computational Infrastructure, Australia’s peak high-performance computational service. Since 2016 he has been a member of an expert panel convened by the InterAcademy Partnership to improve global science policy advice in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. He has a particular interest in the role that data, data analytics and, more generally, ICT can play in delivering the SDGs. Most recently he represented Australia at the inaugural meeting of Commonwealth Chief Scientists held in London in April. Educated at the University of New South Wales and Cornell University, Professor Barber was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1992 for research in statistical mechanics particularly the theory of phase transitions. In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering for his contributions to science policy and innovation in universities and CSIRO. He was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in January 2018.