High-level discussions on the UN sustainability goals

High-level discussions on the UN sustainability goals

In conjunction with a Sustainable Transport Forum in Paris Scania, together with the Swedish Embassy and Business Sweden, hosted a high-level round table discussion on how transport can contribute to the fulfilment of the global sustainability goals.

The objective of the Paris-meeting was to gather key stakeholders from government, cities, international organisations, the industry, academia and civil society in order to share best practices and exchange ideas on how to adequately address goals 9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation) and 11 (Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. In two round-table discussions these goals were selected as they are critical in driving the shift towards a sustainable transport system.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were formally accepted by the UN General Assembly end of 2015. These new goals are to succeed the Millennium Development Goals signed 2000.

Global partnership

The meeting in Paris provided a unique opportunity to bring ministers, executives and CEOs from all continents and stakeholder groups together, to engage in new cross border collaborations. Thus, the set-up of the round-table discussions were also in line with UN goal 17, which is to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Anna Ryott, CEO of Swedfund.

Anna Ryott, CEO of Swedfund.

Anna Ryott, CEO of Swedfund, the Swedish government´s development finance institution, led the discussion on Goal 9. Anna Ryott summed up that discussion in three outcomes:

The importance of interconnectivity of the UN goals

“Goal 9 is such a strong goal, it impact all the other goals. For example, if Goal 9 is done right it will impact Goal no 8, which is about inclusive growth and decent work for all.”

Change goes where the money flows

“We need to add investments to goal number 8, create the environment for investments into that goal. And how do we do that? Through enabling the environment for this, more investments into infrastructure and at the same time make sure we have policies and regulations that foster an infrastructure for direct investments.”

Partnership as the new leadership

“This was the most important outcome of our discussion. We need more of working together than talking to each other now. Several concrete best-practice examples were shared during the session, from Ghana, Sweden China, India and Colombia. Instead of innovating new solutions we should use these examples, bring them up to scale, and make sure that we can share them among us.”

During the second high-level round-table discussion, led by Johan Kuylenstierna, Executive Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), goal number 11 was discussed. Urban areas account for three percent of land use but close to 75 percent of economic development and greenhouse gas emissions, making urban development key for sustainable development.

“I thought we would have much more technical discussions regarding this goal, but it was more focus on the soft issues,” says Johan Kuylenstierna, and gives three take-away messages from the goal 11-discussion:

Policy incoherence

“This came up as a very critical issue throughout the discussion. We need to really look at governments and how they can be better at handling sustainability challenges and sustainable development in general. It was extremely clear from the private sector that policy incoherence – meaning that sectors or policies are driving in different directions – doesn´t really support sustainable long-term investments.”

Vertical integration

“We also discussed vertical integration, building on partnerships, on national, regional and local levels.  We can see that many policies for national levels, for instance on fuel systems, are not fit for what is happening on local levels.  So we have to integrate between these different systems so we get efficient systems for sustainability.”

People at the centre

“If we do not talk about sustainability in the terms of attractiveness, meaning that transport systems must be affordable, inviting but also financially sustainable, we cannot drive the change and innovation. This came out as a very strong message from all the speakers, regardless where they came from.”

Cities are very diverse and solutions must be both flexible and adapted. One single solution for all cities is not the solution forward, the round-table discussion agreed on. Instead there must be a process where solutions can be adapted to changing environment. The business sector is clearly part of that effort.

“But policies and incentives must really be in place for them to meet the challenges and have the capacity to think long-term,” Johan Kuylenstierna summed up.