Our Future through the Sustainable Development Goals

Event Image | Our Future through the Sustainable Developement Goals, Friday 19th March, 4:30 PM (EET)

On Friday 19th, March 2021 from 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM (EET), the online event “Our Future through the Sustainable Development Goals” took place. 

The event brought together 7 prominent international professors and experts and about 200 young people from different academic backgrounds and 40 countries of the world to explore and discuss how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contribute to the future of the world and how they can be achieved through the various scientific fields. 

The speakers, through their insightful, inspiring and comprehensive speeches, shed light on a variety of more or less known topics related to sustainable development and the Six Transformations to achieve them. Their presentations and the participants’ questions sparked an interesting panel discussion which emphasized the relationship between the topics and the need for joint efforts and partnerships of academics, private and public sector, governments, and of course young people. By the end of the event, we received very encouraging comments from the audience. 

“Wonderful speakers, inspiring talks and different perspectives into one common goal.”

“Simple and really helpful presentations, the importance of sustainability was made understood”

“The speakers wanted to be there. You could see the joy in their faces as they were talking.”

“I really appreciated the diversity of the subjects that were covered”

Nicolaos THEODOSSIOU (Professor of Water Resources Management, Department of Civil Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Chair of SDSN Black Sea) emphasized that the SDGs are not 17 distinct goals rather than 17 components of the same goal: sustainable development. He also introduced the participants to the relatively new concept of the ‘SIx Transformations to Achieve the SDGs’. 

Karin MARKIDES (President of the American University of Armenia; Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Uppsala University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Sweden) brought new insights on the topic of ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’ and especially focus on the need for partnerships and Public Private University co-creation. She mentioned specific success stories to give the participants a better understanding of the concept. 

Andjelka MIHAJLOV (former Professor of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Technical, University of Novi Sad, Serbia; Environmental Ambassador) explained how education, gender and inequality are related to the environment and how environmental studies can contribute to the implementation of this transformation. As she mentioned “one size doesn’t fix all”. There are no science-based pathways for successfully achieving all SDGs simultaneously; we need to develop science-based transformational and equitable pathways to sustainable development.

Emmanouil SMYRNAKIS (Associate Professor of Primary Health Care and Medical Education, School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece) discussed the current situation, challenges and opportunities on achieving SDG 3 and implementing transformation 2 ‘Health, Well-being and Demography’. He particularly emphasized the Healthy Life Expectancy and that people do not only need to live longer but they should live healthier for longer.

Eden MAMUT (Professor of Engineering Thermodynamics, Ovidius University of Constanta, Romania; Secretary General of Black Sea Universities Network) explained the impact of carbon on climate change, the decarbonization pathways and referred to the circular economy and sustainable industry. He particularly emphasized on the importance of the minimization of raw material extraction and of the waste streams and the need of promoting sustainable trends in the industrial sector.

Sam LONI (Program Director, Global Schools, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network) talked about the establishment of SDSN Youth, and shared his motives and ambitions behind this initiative. He mentioned that young people constitute a great percentage of the world, the greatest ever recorded and they have a great power to help them change the world: their energy and creativity. 

Jeffrey SACHS (President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University) closed the event with a highly motivational speech, emphasizing the need for joint efforts and partnerships in a regional level among the countries at the Black Sea area. He also addressed the role of young people in the partnerships and advised them to not be afraid to call their governments to take meaningful action towards climate change and sustainable development. 

Professor Nicolaos PAPAIOANNOU, Rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, hosting institution of SDSN Black Sea, welcomed the event and once again expressed his support to the network and its activities. 

Evangelia SAVVIDOU, Coordinator of SDSN Youth Black Sea, was the hostess of the event. 

We would like to thank the professors and experts for kindly accepting our invitation to participate in the event, and for putting so much beautiful energy and effort for the realization of it. 

We would also like to thank all the participants who joined the event, and all the people and youth organizations for supporting and promoting our initiative.

Below you can watch the recording of the event.

The event was funded by the Research Committee of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), hosting institution of SDSN Black Sea and SDSN Youth Black Sea, and was organized under the auspices of the Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, AUTh.

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