Science for a Sustainable Future

A partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals

SN SDG logo © Springer Nature 2019Science for a Sustainable Future (SFSF) is a joint initiative of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) and Springer Nature. 

Now in its fifth year, the event brings together policymakers, government representatives, UN officials and leading global scientists to discuss and advance the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To mark Earth Month 2024, the event consisted of three separate panels on SDG topics. These are topics that need further investigation and complement the focus of the UN Summit for the Future later this year.

Adapting Health Systems to Climate Change

Human health cannot be considered in isolation: it must be reviewed in the context of planetary health if we are to achieve SDGs 3 and 13. This session looks at the connection between human, planet and animal health. It also considers what civil society, governments, and international leaders can learn from science and research to improve policy outcomes, but also where science and research can fill knowledge gaps to advance understanding of these important linkages.

Beyond GDP: finding the right measure for progress

Is GDP the right supra metric for measuring progress towards the SDGs? Never designed as a metric for welfare, its continued use conflicts with metrics more relevant to well-being and social progress. How can new metrics be developed in an inclusive way? Should we consider sustainable well-being within planetary boundaries as a goal instead? What about measures of subjective well-being? Or should we explicitly consider reform of current GDP calculations rather than just introduction of new metrics? This panel will consider these questions, as well as the alternative ideas emerging from the scientific and research community, joining together those on either side of the discussion.

Migration: the missing link

Migration is a topic dominating newsrooms from a political perspective, yet the real implications of global migration are closely connected to biodiversity, food systems, climate and more. This session asks how we can effectively measure, predict and respond to migration, and what the research tells us about solutions for managing and adapting to population movement from across the disciplines. The panel, chaired by Editor in Chief of Nature Magdalena Skipper, will consider how migration can and should be involved in broader sustainability discussions, and the essential role of diverse representation in doing so. 

About SDSN

SDSN-logo-standardThe UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was established in 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General.

SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society.

Delivering Clean, Affordable Energy For All

In April 2023 we hosted three webinars on topics such as energy and science communication, energy and social justice, as well as energy and the transition to net zero. Watch the webinars on-demand below and hear from the panellists as they reflect on their key takeaways from each session. Discover the key policy recommendations needed to achieve SDG7 that were identified during the series, by downloading our Policy Brief: Delivering Clean, Affordable Energy For All, on the right hand side of this page.

Energy in the transition to Net Zero

Energy and Social Justice in the Global South

Energy and Science Communications

Reflections from our Expert Panelists

Lessons from COVID-19 for Climate Change

The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that the world is capable of acting with urgency to tackle crises on a global scale. It demonstrated that the focused and coordinated efforts of global experts can lead to rapid and radical changes to address an emerging threat – for example in global mobility, ways of working, and medical advances. 

It also highlighted the crucial importance of tackling misinformation, demonstrated that individual behaviors can benefit society collectively, and showed how structural inequalities predetermine who is most affected and how - all issues that have clear parallels to the climate crisis.

This white paper explores the development of strategies through an interdisciplinary approach to motivate behaviour change, tackle misinformation and address inequality in times of crises.

Download the white paper

Learning from Crises - from COVID to Climate

On November 1 2021, Springer Nature and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) brought experts together from across industries and disciplines for a virtual event to coincide with climate conference COP26.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the world can act with urgency to tackle the biggest crises; it has demonstrated that the focused and coordinated efforts of global experts can lead to radical changes in global mobility, economies, and entirely new vaccines. It has also highlighted the crucial importance of tackling misinformation and motivated ignorance, encouraging individual behaviours that benefit society collectively, and shown how structural inequalities dictate who is most affected - issues with clear parallels to the climate crisis. How can the lessons from the covid-19 global emergency inform climate action?

Watch the recording now

Harnessing Science for a Sustainable Future

Watch the recordings and download the white paper

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about mass global disruption and presented a significant setback to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, it paved the way for more science-informed decision-making, enabling the research, scientific, and policy communities to join together like never before, and proving the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to combating crisis, developing effective policies, and accelerating innovation. 

In May 2021, on the sidelines of the UN Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology, and Innovation, Springer Nature and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) hosted a virtual debate on how to bridge the divide between the research and policy communities to accelerate innovation on the SDGs and build resiliency post COVID-19. The debate also drew on insights from a white paper (available for download to the right) on how to foster greater collaboration and inclusive problem-solving between these communities.

You can tune into the event below.

1st Annual Science for a Sustainable Future Conference – Oct 8 2020 – Watch the recordings

You can tune into each of the individual sessions below.

2nd Annual Science for a Sustainable Future Conference - Watch the recordings

Springer Nature and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) hosted their second annual virtual conference on science for a sustainable future on October 5th 2021. This global virtual conference brought together policymakers, government representatives, UN officials, as well as leading scientists from around the world to discuss the role of science in achieving the SDGs. The conference included opening remarks by Nature editor in chief Magdalena Skipper, a conversation between Scientific American editor in chief Laura Helmuth and President of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Jeffrey Sachs as well as panels on the topics of Food Systems, Climate Finance and Universal Health.


You can watch the recordings below.