On the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day (April 22nd) SDSN organized a 24-hour webinar: “Happiness and Sustainability Around the Earth”, consisting of six (6) sessions with more than 25 different topics covered.
SDSN Black Sea hosted the presentation: “Happy Cities: Strategies and applications in pursuit of urban wellbeing”, during which we tried to explore the interlinkage between wellbeing and urban environment.
Savvas Stroumpas, an active student of architecture was invited to present a part of his research thesis on social wellbeing and the ways of evaluating and strengthening it through urban planning and social interventions.
Savvas has actively participated in various programs such as TEDx (as a member of the organizing team of TEDx University of Patras), while for the past two years, his studies and research have been aimed at combining social sciences with urban design for a more sustainable way of living and a better quality of life.
The pursuit of happiness is the ultimate goal of man throughout the development of Western culture. Since ancient times, Aristotle spoke about these elements of the city and its regime that offer suitable conditions for its citizens to be happy. Today, growing concerns about the spread of mental illness in the Western world have led to the development of a variety of theories about the pursuit of a better quality of life in developed cities. From this reflection, the term “Happy Cities” has emerged, a term that investigates our understanding of happiness, and its possible connection with the urban planning and environmental characteristics of a city. The interpretations of happiness that have been rendered till the present day, along with recent developments in psychological and social research, comprise the core of this research. Subsequently, a novel combination of urban design and urban planning values is proposed, with the aim of the creation of a series of tools that promote social wellbeing in modern urban life.
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.
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.
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.
The aim of the Event is to highlight youth’s view on policies, actions, legislation and initiatives that Greece could undertake, at national and global level, for the implementation of SDGs. The views of youth could feed into the National Action Plan for the implementation of SDGs.
You may find the Event’s very interesting programme by clicking here.
On Friday July 26th, Professor Sachs was guided by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Hemathia to the ancient Macedonian city of Mieza and the School of Aristotle where the philosopher tutored Alexander the Great.
During the weekend (July 27thand 28th) Professor Sachs also visited Mount Athos after an invitation by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch and met with government officials.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s leading experts on economic development and the fight against poverty, is developing an extremely interesting humanistic economic model, based on the principles of Aristotle’s ethics, as we find them in his treatises, Nicomachean Ethics and Eudemian Ethics. He, thus, brings to the forefront a global interest in Aristotle, and expresses his willingness to support the goal of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Aristotle Studies of AUTH to promote the work of the Stageirite philosopher worldwide.
During the Symposium, Plato’s and Aristotle’s main theories have been revisited in order to assess their potential for reforming the Neoclassical Economics paradigm towards including Aristotelian Ethics. UN SDSN endeavors that this Symposium becomes an annual interdisciplinary academic event, bringing together world experts that aim to develop an interdisciplinary framework based on Aristotelian Epistemology and Ethics, within in which the implementation of UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development will be facilitated.
During his stay Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University met with the Environment and Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis in order to discuss Greece’s shift to a sustainable development model. The focus of the meeting were the potential pathways, in which Greece can combine environmental protection with the attraction of significant investment and the creation of new jobs on a large scale.
Related to these discussions, UN SDSN will launch during the 3rdSustainability Summit 16th-17th October, organized by The Economist and UN SDSN Greece, the 4-SEAS Sustainable Blue Growth Initiative: Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caspian and Aral Seas, as well as a Global Roundtable on Zero-Emission Ocean Shipping, including world-leading ship technologists, ship owners, ship builders and ports worldwide.
“Implementation of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in the Balkan Region: The Role of the Universities” was the title of this year’s annual conference jointly hosted by the Balkan Universities Association (BUA) and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) in April 16-18,2019, in Thessaloniki.
The main topics of the conference were:
Quality Assurance in Higher Education – International Accreditation
Earth Observation Data – Societal Benefit Areas
European Projects / European Academic and Research Networks
The Impact of Universities on Local/Regional Economies
Modern Approaches on Agriculture and Forestry
Methods to promote University – Industry Cooperation
Professor Nicolaos Theodossiou, Chair of the SDSN Black Sea, represented the Network and talked about the “Challenges and the Opportunities of the Sustainable Development Solutions Networks”, highlighting the need for regional cooperation on the implementations of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This need was also stressed out by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the SDSN, who joint the conference via Skype. Sachs presented ways of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in the Balkan Region and emphasized the important role the Universities play in the implementation of the SDGs in general.
SDSN Black Sea is pleased to announce the Network’s participation in the Global Baku Forum, a high-level international conference hosted by the Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC). Within the Forum’s framework, a joint meeting between the Executive board of the Black Sea Universities Network -BSUN and the Leadership council of the SDSN Black Sea will be held on March 17th, regarding “Education, Science and Innovation for supporting the Implementation of the SDGs in the Wider Black Sea Region”.
“Progressing National SDG Implementation” is the third in a regular series of reports commissioned by civil society. It documents and analyses the 46 English, French, Spanish and Arabic Voluntary National Review (VNR) reports submitted in 2018 to the UN’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
The report identifies ten key pillars that we believe are essential to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also recognizes emerging good practice and sets out a range of conclusions and recommendations with respect to how countries can both improve their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and use the HLPF as an opportunity for mutual peer learning, knowledge exchange and support. Importantly, the review also provides a comparative assessment of how VNR reporting is evolving over time through a comparison of analysis of the VNRs in 2016 and 2017 with findings for 2018.
On Thursday October 25, 2018, SDSN was glad to present a first look at its latest regional network, the SDSN Black Sea. Hosted by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and chaired by Prof. Nicolaos Theodossiou, Professor of Water Resources Management at the Department of Civil Engineering, this new regional chapter will function as a hub for sustainable development for the wider area of the Black Sea.
In his keynote speech, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director, SDSN, highlighted the need for regional cooperation on the SDGs. “SDSN global members do not look for division, but for joining and cooperating for the global good”, Sachs emphasized the clear value proposition of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and its members.
Besides protecting and preserving its vulnerable ecosystem, the SDSN Black Sea network is set out to work on some of the other pressing challenges for the region: economic transformation, youth unemployment, innovation and sustainable tourism.
The panel of the event. Prof. J. Sachs, Director of SDSN, Prof. N. Theodossiou, Chair of SDSN Black Sea, Assoc. Prof. G. Zarotiadis, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Political Sciences, Prof. P. A. Mitkas, Rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and Prof. P. Koundouri, Co-Chair of SDSN Greece.
Prof. Theodossiou, appointed Chair of the Network, pointed out the imminent need to mobilize the broad base of excellent universities in the region, tapping into their enormous potential that can be activated in the name of a collaborative effort for the SDGs. In a second step, already existing research, innovation and technology in the region will be mapped, aligning them with the SDGs and developing a set of regional priorities. While expressing his optimism for the academic community of the Black Sea region to respond to the call of the newly established network, Prof. Theodossiou pointed out that more can be done when it comes to research results and their implementation in the market, especially within the private sector.
Co-chair of SDSN Greece, Prof. Phoebe Koundouri
Co-chair of SDSN Greece and Professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business, Phoebe Koundouri stressed that solving the problems of sustainable development is not just a challenge, but a need that has to be responded to at both the national and the international level. She highlighted the role of education for the understanding of regional challenges and noted that it can help shift from knowledge to action on all levels of society.
For the network being hosted out of Thessaloniki, Assoc. Prof. Grigoris Zarotiadis, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Political Sciences at the AUTh, highlighted the role of Greece more widely in the Black Sea region and added that the project will give birth to many research, social, political and economic partnerships, always in the light of and in the direction of serving the SDGs.
Rectors of universities of the Black Sea and the officials of SDSN.
“The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is proud because a node of the SDSN in the areas of the Black Sea is starting today” said the rector of AUTh, Pericles Mitkas. “We are trying to give the people of our countries the opportunity to contribute to this global effort, for the planet to proceed in a different way, and for humanity to deal with very important problems of poverty or uneven development.”
The whole video of the event can be accessed here.