British Council Panel Discussion

\”Be a global citizen… Help us make this world safer and more sustainable today and for the generations that will follow us.” Ban Ki-moon

Recently, YSJ Team Member Iman Mouloudi attended the British Council\’s \’How science can help achieve the sustainable goals\’ panel discussion. The session was hosted by the Director of Science at the British Council, Claire McNulty, and with guests such as Lucilla. The discussion centred on the growing need for sustainable practices, and how science has been critical in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as set out by the United Nations as part of its 2030 agenda. The conference has been underpinned by the British Council’s exhibition: The sustainable development goals: facing up to the global challenges . This exhibition was open from 19th of February to April 8th 2016 and invited a more visual understanding of the challenges faced by the modern world.

So, what is sustainability and why is it important? Sustainability is the measure by which the earth\’s natural material outweighs its current usage. If this delicate balance is manipulated, we find ourselves conducting unsustainable practice. This was the topic of the conference, and a subject which has been heavily debated since the end of the Second World War and the formation of UNESCO in 1945. It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of sustainability where we have recently reached a population of over 7 billion people. Understandably, this raises many hugely important questions. Will we have enough to eat? What happens when fossil fuels run out? Can we sustain the usage of common materials that we rely on daily, but are ultimately supplied from a limited resource on Earth?

Thus, the pretext of the conference was set in an important political backdrop. As of 2016 all 193 UN member states have actively committed to the 17 sustainable development goals.

17 Sustainable Development Goals set out by the UN

The 17 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ as part of the UN’s 2030 agenda. Taken from:

Importantly, the critical role of science in implementing, monitoring and achieving these goals was also discussed. However, interestingly, the role of education was also highlighted. The engagement of the public in scientific concerns and policies was shown to make profound impacts within the local community, as is an important initiative for policy-makers to bear in mind. However, many of the 17 SDG targets include both political and economic crossovers, often constraining the freedom of scientific action. This is the principle importance of the collective unity between the 193 member states in achieving these crucial goals.

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