Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 28 January 2019: Defining the road ahead for meeting the United Nation (UN)’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was the topic of the opening session of the third UAE Public Policy Forum, which commenced yesterday (Sunday) in Dubai under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
Organised by the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) – the first research and teaching institution focusing on governance and public policy in the Arab world, the two-day event titled ‘Accelerating SDGs Implementation Future Policy Roadmap’ discussed key issues around health, the private sector, youth engagement and technology in relation to meeting the 17 SDGs under the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Outlining how the current status was one of inertia, Dr. Yannick Glemarec, former UN Assistant Secretary General, said: “If we look at the global trends, we might have to wait for the end of the end of the 22nd century before we achieve some of these goals. We are not in very good shape. Fortunately - as we will be discussing in this forum - we have plenty of ways to accelerate progress and break trends.”
Discussing the future of the energy sector, Adnan Amin, Director General International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Chair of SDG 8 Global Council, said: “We have just completed the work of a commission called ‘the Global Commission of the Geopolitics of the Energy Transition.’ The finding of this commission is very clear - the future of energy is going to be more and more electricity, electrification, that’s going to be decentralised and democratised with multiple producers and consumers, but it’s also going to be based on clean energy - particularly renewable energy - because the cost of these things is coming down.”
Professor Salman Keshavjee, Director, Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery said that each SDG should not be viewed in isolation. ‘If we start to look at these SDGs as separate entities, then we will run into problems because they are so interlinked. Over the next 20-30 years, there will be 700 million people in the world with diabetes. You often think of the disease in terms of sugar and what we put into our bodies and that people need to eat better and exercise more – a simple message. When you bring the science to bear, you realise that there are a number of factors linked to diabetes. One is air pollution and its link to inflammation, early heart disease, diabetes and asthma. When you think of the environment and renewable energy, they can actually have an effect on diabetes.”
Highlighting his view of obstacles to achieving SDGs from a business perspective, Fadi Ghandour, Chairman of Wamda.com Founder and Vice Chairman of Aramex, said: ‘I think that this biggest challenge for the private sector at this stage – and for government, since everything is interconnected – is how do you actually mobilise the private sector to be part of this process. There is a massive lack of awareness on the private sector side of what the SDGs are, what their role is within that; how do they conduct themselves and how dos the private sector think of itself in terms of development.”
The third UAE Public Policy Forum concludes today (Monday) at the Intercontinental, Dubai Festival City. The second day of the event features a keynote speech from Professor. Jeffrey Sachs Director, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Director at the Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, USA.