“The World Must Do Better To Harness Science for a Sustainable Future”

Springer Nature Group
By: Jeffrey. D. Sachs and Magdalena Skipper, Mon Oct 5 2020

Joint Statement Ahead of SDSN & Springer Nature Conference - 8th October 2020. 

As President of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Editor-in-Chief of Nature, we spend our lives hearing about and reading the latest research, emerging thinking, and new ideas. And we’re inspired. Each week, the pages of Nature and other research publications offer new insights into the natural world, illuminating new science-based approaches to human well-being and environmental sustainability. 

At the same time, we know that we – more than any generation before us – also face urgent sustainable development challenges: increasingly frequent zoonotic diseases, human-induced climate change, the massive destruction of biodiversity, and unprecedented inequalities of income and wealth. And as highlighted during the recent UN General Assembly, our progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lags far behind. COVID-19 in particular has challenged us all, and in some cases, the pandemic has exposed the gaps between the latest scientific insights and policy-making. If we are to realise our hope for a sustainable future we must act now and act together.

We recognize that research and innovation, although vital, are not enough to guide humanity to a better future.  The challenge for our generation is to find a path to solving problems that is more inclusive: one that brings together scientists and technologists from assorted disciplines with public policy specialists and many stakeholder communities; that listens across the generations, and that includes under-represented voices – particularly those voices who have been marginalized. 

As science reaches out to stakeholders across society, politics too must change.  We must not settle for politics as a mere struggle for power and advantage.  Politics must become a shared undertaking for the common good, one that is based on scientific knowledge, best evidence, and a shared commitment to human dignity for all. 

To support this vital mission, on October 8, 2020, SDSN and Springer Nature are convening a high-level global virtual conference of researchers, experts working alongside UN officials, government representatives, civil-society leaders, and policymakers to address the role of science, technology, and public policy in achieving the SDGs. The conference, “Science for a Sustainable Future,” will foster discussion on how researchers can work with colleagues across professional sectors and disciplines to solve our most critical sustainable development challenges. 

Expertise in all fields is necessary to fight today’s challenges, and we can only achieve our goals if we work collaboratively.  We invite you, leading researchers, practitioners and interested citizens, to join us at this event and share your thoughts here on how we can better work together to achieve the targets set out in the SDGs, the Paris Climate Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Signed by

Jeffrey Sachs

President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University

Magdalena Skipper

Editor-in-Chief, Nature

Magdalena Skipper and Jeffery Sachs

Author: Jeffrey. D. Sachs and Magdalena Skipper

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed the Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the UN Broadband Commission for Development. He has been advisor to three United Nations Secretaries-General, and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary General António Guterres. He spent over twenty years as a professor at Harvard University, where he received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees. He has authored numerous bestseller books. His most recent book is The Ages of Globalization: Geography, Technology, and Institutions (2020). Sachs was twice named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders and was ranked by The Economist among the top three most influential living economists.

Magdalena Skipper, Editor in Chief, Nature is a geneticist by training and has considerable editorial and publishing experience: having started in Nature Publishing Group in 2001, she was Chief Editor of Nature Reviews Genetics, Senior Editor for genetics and genomics at Nature, and more recently Executive Editor for the Nature Partner Journals. Before joining Nature as Editor in Chief she was Editor in Chief of Nature Communications. She studied sex determination at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, and Notch signalling in the vertebrate gut epithelium at the ICRF Laboratories (CRUK today), London. She is passionate about mentorship, transparent science and clarity in science communication. She has a keen interest in innovation in science publishing.