SDSN gathers leaders to discuss a regional strategy for the SDGs

Prof. Phoebe Koundouri, Athens University of Economics and Business and Co-Chair UN SDSN Greece, presenting SDSN initiatives at the Gala Dinner with Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director SDSN, and Mr. George Papandreou, President Socialist International, former Prime minister of Greece, and Mr. John Andrews, consultant editor, The Economist

On 16th and 17th October 2019, SDSN Greece and The Economist Events, supported by SDSN Black Sea, SDSN Mediterranean, and EIT Climate-KIC Hub Greece, organized the Third Sustainability Summit for South-East Europe and the Mediterranean, hosted by the Goulandris Natural History Museum. Since its inception, this Summit has developed into the main annual meeting of high-profile academics, innovators, politicians, policy makers, and civil society stakeholders in the South-East Europe and the Mediterranean, convening networks of expertise, mobilizing resources and influencing regional policy for the urgently needed sustainability transition. 

Representatives of government, public and private sector, and academia discussed the current status of SDG implementation in the region, emphasizing the challenges and opportunities related to migration and security, the impact of the blue and circular economy on growth, climate change, tourism, new partnerships, and current technological developments. For the full list of sessions please click here.

Prof. Andreas Papandreou of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and Co-Chair UN SDSN Greece, opened the Summit emphasizing the importance of both grassroots action and science-based solutions, which are key to deal with Agenda 2030 challenges.

The 2-day event boasted high-level participation and valuable inputs from distinguished guests from all across the region. 

In the session on “Blue Economy and Circular Economy: Does it pay to do it sustainably?”, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis presented a new strategic plan for sustainable tourism which is meant to be developed directly and in consultation with the tourism industry. The country’s goal is for new tourism products to be in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, not burdening the natural environment. Achieving a sustainable tourism economy will have to rely on ‘green certifications’ and investments through EU funds allocated for that purpose, the minister noted.

Kostis Hatzidakis, Greek Minister of Environment and Energy, in his keynote speech stressed that the environment is not considered an individual political sector but as the filter through which every state policy should pass in order to be adopted. He also highlighted the importance of green investments, which are at the baseline of green economic growth.  

In the session on “Green-Blue Shipping and Sustainable Marine Resources Management”, the Greek Minister of Maritime and Island Policy, Mr. Ioannis Plakiotakis reported on a planned upgrade to the naval education to improve services in the shipping sector. He also presented a special working group the ministry is set to launch in order to promote gender equality and strengthen the role of women in shipping.

Referring to SDG 9, the minister reiterated the government’s commitment to the development of the country’s ports into true drivers of growth. In this direction, actions are being taken to speed up the utilization of 10 major regional ports.

Lastly, he went on to underline the importance of meeting SDG 14, which involves the careful management and protection of marine areas with regulations that will restrict overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification.

Prof. Angelo Riccaboni, Chair of SDSN Mediterranean, presented the Sustainable Development Report 2019 for the Mediterranean.

The Summit was also place to the launch of The Sustainable Development Report 2019 – Mediterranean Countries Edition, which included integrated contents and tables focusing on 23 Mediterranean countries. The Report shows that no Mediterranean country is on track to meeting all the Goals. The average value of the SDG Index (71.4) hypothetically locates the Mediterranean region around the 49th position of the world rank. Besides the good records for SDG 1 (countries are progressing well towards ending poverty), the Mediterranean area obtains the worst ratings of the index on SDGs 2 (Zero Hunger), 5 (Gender Equality), 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure) and 14 (Life below Water). Among the measures required, consistent efforts must be addressed to improve policies and practices in the food sector, for instance, promoting sustainable agriculture and behaviors concerning diets and food waste; action is also needed for supporting and improving women integration at all levels of society; public and private investments addressed to SDG-oriented research and innovation must rise sharply in most countries, etc.

Original Post by UN SDSN.