Where are we heading: Visions and scenarios for the future of the SDGs following the COVID-19 crisis

This session will focus on future trends, projections and scenarios around the ECOSOC theme of “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development” following the COVID-19 crisis.

The General Assembly decided that the ECOSOC High-level Segment would focus on “future trends and scenarios related to the Council theme, the long-term impact of current trends, such as contribution of new technologies, in the economic, social and environmental areas on the realization of the SDGs based on the work of the UN and other regional and international organizations and bodies as well as other stakeholders.” (resolution 72/305)

This year, as part of this discussion, the High-level Segment will address the current COVID-19 pandemic and its economic, social and environmental effects on the SDGs. The COVID-19 outbreak has mobilized emergency action at local and national level. The reports of the Secretary-General on the theme of ECOSOC 2020 and on “long term future trends and scenarios -impacts in the economic, social and environmental areas on the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals” will provide background for the session. 

To advance the thinking around transformative pathways that can advance the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development, the first report discusses particular accelerated actions required during and beyond the response to COVID-19 along pathways for reducing income inequality and eradicating extreme poverty, as well as reducing CO2 emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The second report presents a set of best-case, aspirational long-term scenarios in line with the SDGs and contrasts them with business-as-usual and worst-case scenario outcomes for 2030 and 2050. It also explores the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as new Internet technologies and artificial intelligence.

Proposed guiding questions:

  • What are the long-term implications of current and near-term decisions, such as those to address COVID-19 or the impacts of new Internet and artificial intelligence technologies? How will they influence our capacity and available options to deal with other great sustainability challenges that humanity is facing in the longer run?
  • How can governments turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to “build back better”?  What are the most important policies and actions to overcome the current global economic crisis and put the world on a pathway towards the SDGs, eradicating extreme poverty, saving the environment, and “leaving no one behind”? What could be achieved with much higher water, energy and materials efficiencies?
  • How can governments better shockproof healthcare, social protection and other key systems and institutions for unexpected events like COVID-19?
  • What role can governments and the United Nations play in the coming decade to strengthen solutions-oriented international cooperation on sustainable development?  

Chair:

  • H.E. Ms. Mona Juul, President of Economic and Social Council

Moderator:

  • Mr. Michael Obersteiner, Executive Director, The Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK

Presentation on the Sustainable Development Goals Progress Chart 2020 by Mr. Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the Statistics Division, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Resource Persons:

  • Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Executive Director, The World in 2050 (TWI2050), former Deputy Director and CEO of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis  (IIASA)
  • Ms. Claudia Martínez, Executive Director of E3- Ecología, Economía y Ética, Colombia, and Co-chair of the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) country programs

Lead discussant:

  • Mr. Kostas Stamoulis, former Assistant-Director General of the Economic and Social Development Department, and Senior Adviser to FAO

Respondents:

  • H.E. Mr. Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, United Arab Emirates
  • H.E. Mr. Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany
  • Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes, Special Envoy of the UNSG on Disability and Accessibility
Biographies
H.E. Mr. Jochen Flasbarth
State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany
H.E. Mr. Jochen Flasbarth

State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany

Born 4 April 1962
in Duisburg-Rheinhausen, North Rhine-Westphalia

Education
1983 - 1989 Studied economics, political science and philosophy in Münster and Bonn
graduating with a degree in economics

Career
1989 - 1994 Head of the editorial office of the Economica-Verlag publishing house in Bonn
1994 - 2003 Full-time President of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU)
2003 - 2009 Director-General for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
2009 – 2013 President of the Federal Environment Agency
Since Dec. 2013 State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

Voluntary involvement
Since 1979 Member of the former Deutscher Bund für Vogelschutz (DBV, German Society for the Protection of Birds), from which Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (NABU, Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) emerged
1980 - 1992 Various functions at NABU, including federal chairman of Naturschutzjugend (German Youth Association for the Protection of Nature); later, member and then vice-president in the NABU presidium
1985 - 2003 Member of the board of Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR, German League for Nature and Environment)
1986 Founding board member of Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD, German Transport Association)
1988 - 2003 Member of the DNR executive board
1992 - 2003 President of Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) e.V.
Since 1993 Member of the board of trustees of the Michael Otto Stiftung für Umweltschutz (Michael Otto foundation for environmental protection)
1993 - 2003 Member of the ZDF television board
1994 - 2003 Member of the supervisory board of the Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy) GmbH
Member of the advisory council of B.A.U.M.-Environment-Protection-AG
Member of the jury for the Commerzbank/Impulse environment award
1995 - 2003 Member of the main committee/board of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Umweltfragen e.V. (AGU)
1996 - 1998 Member of the “Nationales Komitee für Nachhaltige Entwicklung” (National Committee for Sustainable Development)
Member of the advisory council to the project “Sustainable Germany” (Study Commission on Protection of Humans and the Environment)
1997 - 2003 Chairman of the board of trustees of Stiftung Naturschutzgeschichte (Foundation on the history of nature conservation)
2000 - 2003 Member of the board of Allianz pro Schiene (pro rail alliance)
2001 - 2003 Member of the Federal Government’s Council for Sustainable Development
2002 - 2004 Member of the Zukunftsrat (Council for the future) at the State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia

H.E. Mr. Omar Sultan Al Olama
Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, United Arab Emirates
H.E. Mr. Omar Sultan Al Olama

Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, United Arab Emirates

His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama has been appointed as Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence following the Cabinet reshuffle in October 2017. His responsibilities include enhancing the government performance by investing in the latest technologies and tools of artificial intelligence and applying them in various sectors.

His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama is currently the Managing Director of the World Government Summit. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Dubai Future Foundation and Deputy Managing Director of the Foundation. In November 2017, the UAE government announced selecting HE. Omar Al Olama as a member of the Future of Digital Economy and Society Council at the World Economic Forum.

During his work in the Future Department at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, His Excellency participated in developing the UAE Centennial 2071 strategy that aims to position the UAE as the best country in the world. He also participated in developing the UAE 4th Industrial Revolution Strategy that aims to promote the UAE’s status as a global hub for the 4th Industrial Revolution and develop a national economy based on knowledge, innovation and future technologies. Prior to his appointment, His Excellency worked on developing the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy, making it the first such strategy of its kind globally.

His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama worked in several sectors including the banking sector, telecommunications, private enterprises and government. H.E. also worked on developing and executing strategies, risk analysis, change management and scenario planning.

His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama holds a Diploma in Project Management and Excellence from the American University of Sharjah and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the American University of Dubai.

H.E. Ms. Mona Juul
Seventy-fifth President of the Economic and Social Council
H.E. Ms. Mona Juul

Seventy-fifth President of the Economic and Social Council

Her Excellency Mona Juul was elected seventy-fifth President of the Economic and Social Council on 25 July 2019. Ambassador Juul is currently the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations in New York.

Ambassador Mona Juul was previously Ambassador to the United Kingdom (2014-2018), Director General for Security Policy and the High North in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2011-2014), Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission to the UN in New York (2005-2010) and Chair of the 1st Committee of the 61 session of the United Nations General Assembly (2006).

She served as Ambassador to Israel (2001-2005), accredited to Cyprus for the same period. State Secretary/Deputy Foreign Minister at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2000), Special Advisor/Ambassador/Middle East Coordinator in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1997-2000) chairing the AHLC (Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on Assistance to the Palestinians). She was Minister Counsellor at the Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv (1994-1997). Her first posting was at the Norwegian Embassy in Cairo (1988-1990).

Mona has been with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1986, during which time she has gained broad diplomatic experience. This includes working in the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (1992-1993) and member of the small Norwegian team that facilitated the secret negotiations between Israel and the PLO leading to the Oslo Agreement.

She holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Oslo.

Ambassador Juul was born 10 April 1959 and is married to Mr. Terje Rød-Larsen. They have two children.

Mr. Kostas Stamoulis
Former Assistant-Director General of the Economic and Social Development Department and Senior Adviser to FAO
Mr. Kostas Stamoulis

Former Assistant-Director General of the Economic and Social Development Department and Senior Adviser to FAO

Mr. Kostas (Konstantinos) G. Stamoulis is currently Senior Advisor in FAO on issues of food security and food systems transformation.

Stamoulis retired from FAO in December 2018 as Assistant Director-General of the Economic and Social Development Department, a position in which he held for 3 years.
In his 30 year career with FAO he served in a number of technical and management positions.

Before he became Assistant Director General Stamoulis was Strategic Programme Leader for the Food Security and Nutrition Strategic Programme of FAO which cut across several disciplines and geographical regions.

Between 2008 and 2015 he was the Director of the Agricultural Development Economics Division of FAO.

From 2007 to 2015 he was the Secretary of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and played a key role in the reform of the committee.

Before joining FAO in 1989, he was Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign ( USA).

Stamoulis has experience in the analysis and policy support on a wide array of issues: food security, agricultural and rural development, agricultural and food systems transformation, rural-urban linkages and urban food systems and environmental economics. He has been the author of numerous publications ( books, monographs, governing body papers and reports and many articles in peer-reviewed professional journals. For many years he had the overall supervision and guidance for the major FAO flagship publications : The State of Food and Nutrition in the World ( SOFI), the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) and FAO’s Global Perspectives work.

He holds a degree in Economics from the Economics University of Athens (Greece), a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Georgia (USA) and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California at Berkeley ( USA).

Mr. Michael Obersteiner
Executive Director, The Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK
Mr. Michael Obersteiner

Executive Director, The Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK

Michael Obersteiner is the Director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University.

He has built an information rich cluster of scenario models to assess integrated development options at planetary scale at IIASA.

Currently he is member of the UN’s International Resource Panel, Lead Convening Author of the Systemic Risk Chapter of UNDRR’s Global Assessment report and Editor in Chief of the freshly launched Journal Frontiers in Environmental Economics and Management.

Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic
Executive Director, The World in 2050 (TWI2050)
Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic

Executive Director, The World in 2050 (TWI2050)

Nebojsa Nakicenovic is Deputy Director General and Deputy CEO, IIASA, and former tenured Professor of Energy Economics, TU Wien.

He is a Member of the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts; recipient of the Austrian Grand Decoration in Silver (Österreichisches Ehrenzeichen für Wissenschaft und Kunst); recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for the IPCC with several authors; and of the 2005 Sheikh Zayed Environmental Award for Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) also with several authors.

Among other positions, he is Executive Director of The World in 2050; Convening Lead Author of UNEP Gap Report; member of scientific advisory boards including UN Technical Group on Sustainable Development Goal 7; Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; Renewable Energy for the 21st Century; and WIFO; and serves on the editorial boards of eight scientific journals.

Previous positions include the Director of the Global Energy Assessment, UN Secretary General (SG) Special Advisory 10-Member Group on Science, Technology and Innovation; UN SG Advisory Group on Energy and Climate; Convening Lead Author of IPCC; Co-Leader of the Austrian Climate Change Assessment, Co-Chair of the Global Carbon Project, Chair of the OMV Future Energy Fund Advisory Board, Advisory Council of the German Government on Global Change (WBGU).

Ms. Claudia Martínez Zuleta
Director, E3- Ecology, Economics and Ethics
Ms. Claudia Martínez Zuleta

Director, E3- Ecology, Economics and Ethics

Claudia Martinez has more than 30 years of practical experience in sustainable development, finance, and climate change. She is the Director of E3- Ecology, Economics and Ethics (www.e3asesorias.com), supporting innovating programs and actions to foster sustainable development, new economies and financial schemes. She is director for Colombia and Co-chair of the country programs for the Food and land use coalition - FOLU. She is also a member of the independent advisory Panel of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). She was Director of the Office of Sustainable Development and later Vice President for Social and Environmental Development at the Latin American Development Bank (CAF). She was also Deputy Minister of Environment of Colombia. She started her career as an environmental officer for the Latin American Bureau of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York. She studied Business Administration at Los Andes University in Bogotá and holds a master’s Degree in development economics and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from Yale University.

Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes
Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Disability and Accessibility
Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes

Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Disability and Accessibility

There are more than 1 billion people with some form of disability, accounting for 15 per cent of the world population. In spite of remarkable advances towards accessible and disability-inclusive societies, an enormous gap remains between commitments made and the daily experiences of persons with disabilities. A concerted effort must therefore be made to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind as promised in the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. Appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility since June, Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes has been promoting the rights of persons with disabilities at regional and global levels.

Prior to the current appointment, Ms. Cisternas was the Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the United Nations and recipient of the National Prize of Human Rights (2014-2015). She has been working closely with the United Nations on disability issues for the past two decades, including serving as an expert before the ad hoc committee that developed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, for which she is also the rapporteur for individual complaints.
As a human rights lawyer by training, she also serves as the director of the Legal Programme on Disability in the faculty of law of Diego Portales University, and contributes to the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities at national, regional and international levels.

Ms. Cisternas trained municipal judges, civil servants and members of civil society in various regions of Chile in different aspects of the rights of persons with disabilities, drawing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; co-produced the documentary “Six Women in America” dealing with the process of the implementation of the Convention from a gender perspective; and advised the Human Rights Secretariat of the Latin American Union of Blind Persons (ULAC) and members of the Advisory Group of the Ibero-American Network of Non-Governmental Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families (RIADIS).

She graduated from the Universidad Catolica de Chile with a law degree, and was awarded the title of Supreme Court attorney. Ms. Cisternas has also completed her Master’s studies in political science at the same university with a focus on political institutions and processes.

Statements
Statements
Joint statement by Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes
Remarks by Mr. Kostas Stamoulis
Remarks by Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes
Presentations
Presentation by Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic
Presentation by Mr. Stefan Schweinfest
Presentation by Ms. Claudia Martínez
United Nations