United Nations University (UNU)
1. What decisions or new strategies has the governing body of your organization taken to guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief summary below, including the overarching vision of your governing body for the Decade of Action on the SDGs.
For more than four decades, the United Nations University (UNU) has focused its research on finding solutions for the pressing global problems of human survival, development, and welfare. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the UNU research agenda is uniquely comprehensive, and spans the full breadth of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
UNU’s global network of specialised research institutes, comprising some 400 skilled researchers engaged in more than 180 research projects, collaborates to address the complex, multifaceted challenges encompassed by the 17 SDGs. Given its interdisciplinary, cross- cutting research approach, UNU is particularly active where the different goals merge and interact ― a vital concern, as interconnections are central to the achieving the SDGs,
UNU seeks to generate evidence-based knowledge that can help policymakers develop realistic solutions by encouraging a rethinking of policies and approaches based on fresh perspectives on today’s issues, proactive analyses of emergent concerns, and sound policy alternatives.
The SDGs were adopted too late to be incorporated into the former UNU Strategic Plan (2015-2019). However, during this period the UNU Council, the governing body of the University, had considered the importance of looking at development in an integrated way in order to achieve the goals of Agenda 2030, as well as how UNU’s institutes could best align their work with the SDGs. In its 68th session (December 2017), Council members and UNU Institute Directors discussed ways of further integrating UNU’s work with the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Development and underlined UNU’s value of offering an interface and assisting policymakers to navigate the complex world of interconnected goals and targets.
With the Council’s support, the 2030 Agenda informed the formulation of the UNU Strategic Plan (2020-2024), which contains a specific objective on pursuing policy-relevant research including the exploration of interconnections amongst the 17 SDGs. The implementation plan also includes the development of research programmes that support the 2030 Agenda. The new Strategic Plan was approved by the UNU Council in 2019.
Information about the substantive contributions that UNU has made to implementing and monitoring the SDGs and their targets can be found in the online UNU Sustainable Development Explorer (https://unu.edu/explore) and via UNU Annual Reports (https://unu.edu/publications/annual-reports).
2. At the secretariat level, what steps has your organization taken (or will it take) in the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please specify actions, including but not limited to the following areas:
2.1 SDG-specific strategies, plans or work programmes;
One of the four overarching objectives of UNU’s current (2020-2024) Strategic Plan is to pursue policy-relevant programming. UNU research will add value over the coming years by exploring the interconnections amongst the Sustainable Development Goals and by highlighting the potential for positive knock-on effects through different implementation options.
Further, UNU’s work programme spans the full breadth of the SDGs, and the implementation plan which supports the new UNU Strategic Plan includes the development of programmes that support the 2030 Agenda. Most, if not all, of UNU’s institutes work on specific SDGs or aspects thereof and are strongly involved in global networks/initiatives working to implement the SDGs. Numerous specific examples can be found in UNU’s Annual Reports, in specific projects, and institute publications.
Institutes also reference the SDGs in their institute-level strategic plans. For example, UNU-IAS is currently formulating a new Strategic Plan (2020–2024), which will include (i) promoting integration of activities in separate focal areas to maximize benefits for the SDGs and contributions to multiple UN conventions, and (ii) enhancing multi-stakeholder engagement to expand contributions towards achieving the SDGs.
2.2 Aligning the structure of the organization with the SDGs and the transformative features of the 2030 Agenda, including any challenges and lessons learned in doing so;
As part of regular efforts to manage and improve the quality and management of its work, UNU has developed an in-house proprietary project management system (“Pelikan”). It is an online portal and database, which supports directors and project managers in their implementation of research projects from inception to conclusion.
In support of UNU’s efforts to align research projects with the 2030 Agenda, Pelikan includes a monitoring tool that allows UNU researchers and project managers to identify the relevant SDG(s) that each UNU (research) project addresses. Progress and completion reports via Pelikan throughout the project cycle further inform about the relevance and impact of individual projects to the SDG(s).
2.3 Readjusting or updating results-based budgeting and management, including performance indicators;
Please see the answers to 2.2.
2.4 Action to enhance support to the principle of "leaving no one behind" and to integrated policy approaches;
Please see the answers to 2.1.
2.5 Action to address the interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;
Please see the answers to 2.1.
3. What normative, analytical, technical assistance or capacity building activities is your organization providing to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief account of the activities you have organized or intend to undertake, including but not limited to the following areas:
3.1 Enhancing national implementation including by supporting the mainstreaming of the SDGs in development plans and policies or through national sustainable development plans/strategies;
UNU undertakes a variety of research activities that directly or indirectly provide assistance or support capacity building of Member States in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The following examples are illustrative but non-exhaustive of UNU’s contributions.
At the national level, UNU‐EGOV has provided policy recommendations to the government of Saudi Arabia regarding e‐government performance improvement; began working with the Government of São Tomé e Príncipe to develop the country’s national strategy for digital governance; and is helping Uganda to enhance and sustain the ICT capacity of ministries, central government agencies, and local authorities.
UNU-IAS will collaborate with the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ) on a pilot programme to mainstream the SDGs into the project cycle from the fiscal year 2020. The collaboration with MOEJ will include development and dissemination of policy tools at the international level, supporting governments to introduce a framework for mainstreaming the SDGs into their project cycle. This will contribute to areas 3.1, 3.3, 3.6, 3.8, below.
Through the involvement of UNU-EHS in the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)-funded “Living Deltas Hub”, the institute works with communities and policy makers in South and South-East Asia to develop monitoring frameworks aimed at progress towards achieving the SDGs in deltaic environments, such as: leading a work package tasked with improving delta-level SDG monitoring, and developing a new indicator-based assessment framework to map against national level SDG monitoring efforts.
3.2 Mainstreaming the SDGs in sectoral strategies, including specific SDG/target strategies;
UNU institutes engage with a variety of UN agencies and other entities to support mainstreaming of SDGs in sectoral strategies including:
- UNU-IAS working with UN-ESCAP to develop tailored guidelines for accelerating and localising implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Indonesia through multi-stakeholder partnerships.
- Through its “Water and Energy Security for Africa” project, UNU-EHS is working with a consortium of academic partners to support the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences to train researchers to implement innovative scientific research methods that will generate solutions to ensure water and energy security on the continent (https://unu.edu/projects/water-and-energy- security-for-africa-wesa.html).
3.3 Supporting the strengthening of national institutions for more integrated solutions;
Much of UNUs work supports national institutions in implementation of the SDGs. Some examples are highlighted including:
- UNU‐EGOV is partnering in a project that will offer recommendations on how Portuguese public institutions, particularly municipalities, can use digital technologies to improve their internal operations and their interactions with citizens.
- UNU-FLORES’ Joint PhD Programme in “Integrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste” offered with the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany, aims at creating a new generation of environmental scientists, engineers, and managers to conduct, promote, and provide guidance on the sustainable management of water, soil, and waste (https://flores.unu.edu/en/education/phd- programme/phd-programme-in-integrated-management-of-water-soil-and-waste.html#overview)
- UNU-WIDER’s “Inclusive growth in Mozambique – scaling-up research and capacity” programme , partnering with the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Mozambique, the University of Eduardo Mondlane, and the University of Copenhagen since 2015, supports local institutions in producing freely available primary data from a set of sectors, developing robust macro- and microeconomic modelling tools, and produces research-based policy-relevant evidence on various topics ranging from poverty and equality to extractive industry revenues. In 2019 and early 2020, the programme contributed to discussion within the Government of Mozambique on labour markets and the returns to investments in higher and technical and vocational education with related studies (SDG4) ((https://igmozambique.wider.unu.edu/).
- UNU-CPR’s “Managing Exits from Armed Conflict” (MEAC) project is a multi-year multi-partner collaboration to develop a unified, rigorous approach to examining how and why individuals exit armed conflict and evaluate the efficacy of interventions meant to help support their transition to civilian life. It is conducted in close collaboration with a consortium of donors and key UN actors, including UNICEF, the World Bank, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPO), UNDP and IOM (https://cpr.unu.edu/meac.html)
3.4 Data and statistical capacity building;
- UNU-FLORES’ project “The Impact of Soil Variability on Crop Water Productivity and Food Security of Irrigated Agriculture in West Africa" evaluates crop responses to the soil and climate variability, the results of which serve as guidance for local stakeholders to devise easy-to-use, cost-effective, and efficient decision-making support tools for the management of their irrigated agricultural fields and for the increase of irrigation efficiency (https://flores.unu.edu/en/research/projects/the-impact-of-soil-variability-on-crop-water- productivity-and-food-security-of-irrigated-agriculture-in-west-africa.html#outline).
- As part of the Living Deltas project, UNU-EHS is working to create a knowledge base of present and future socio-ecological risks with a specific focus on the targets and indicators of SDGs 1, 2, 10 and 13. The database will enable interventions focusing on the groups most vulnerable to economic and ecological risks in delta regions.
- UNU-WIDER’s “Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development” (SA-TIED) programme has worked with the government in South Africa to upgrade and provide access to the tax administrative data available for domestic and international researchers while building capacities of government officials and local researchers through the provision of technical trainings ((https://sa-tied.wider.unu.edu/).
- UNU-CPR’s Delta 8.7 data visualisation platform seeks to identify what works under SDG Target 8.7 (on modern slavery, forced labour, human trafficking and child labour) in each country, by compiling the best available evidence and data on the target areas via country data dashboards. These are further brought to life through a series of interactive audio-visual stories (https://delta87.org/).
3.5 Harnessing science, technology and innovation for the SDGs;
UNU recognises the importance of harnessing science, technology and innovative approaches to its research for the benefit of governments and communities. Examples include:
- The UNU‐CPR “Delta 8.7” programme brought together multiple partners to discuss how the artificial intelligence, computational science, and anti‐slavery communities can work together to combat human trafficking and modern slavery, while its Code 8.7 project explores the power of artificial intelligence and computational science to unlock new insights into what works to tackle modern slavery.
- The UNU‐Macau Small Data Lab is at the forefront of generating research outputs that mainstream “small data” approaches (that is, processing data at its finest granularity) for sustainable development, thereby empowering individuals and community‐level actors.
- The UNU‐EGOV Gov 3.0 project is helping governments to deliver customized public services and generate new jobs by opening access to and sharing government‐owned data with the public, as well as enhancing intra‐government collaboration and communication. UNU-EGOV is also leading the “U4SSC Simple Ways to be Smart” project which seeks to make smart city technologies accessible to smaller, and medium sized cities as well as cities that are less well- resourced and in developing and small island states. Involving more than 60 experts from across the world, the project directly contributes to SDG11 Sustainable Cities and Communities.
- UNU‐EHS has developed a “simulation game” on policymaking for peacebuilding in post‐conflict regions; its Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean (CRAIC) project works with satellite data to develop parametric insurance products, allowing the insurance products to be offered at cheaper rates than typical indemnity-based insurance; its Economics of Climate Adaptation Studies (ECA Studies) project uses socio-economic and climate models to model potential future damages and losses due to climate change; while in line with SDG 4, the Pan African Cooperation and Educational Technologies (PACET) programme has been involved in the organization and management of different e-learning activities such as an online summer school on urban resource management, and a monthly series of free online lectures and webinars on drought impacts and drought assessment.
- UNU‐FLORES remains a leader in advancing an innovative nexus thinking approach to solving environmental issues and in applying ecosystem models to nexus assessments. Two examples include its project “Impact of Soil and Crop Management Practices on Soil Water and Carbon Dynamics" and “Development of Models to Predict Land-Use-Induced Soil Pore-Space Changes and their Hydrological Impacts” (SoilPoreDyn)”
- UNU‐INWEH is an active partner in a project that examines how disruptive technologies (such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, and the Internet of things) can contribute towards achieving individual SDG6 (water) targets (https://flores.unu.edu/en/research/projects/impact-of-soil-and-crop-management-practices-on-soil-water-and-carbon- dynamics.html#outline; https://flores.unu.edu/en/research/projects/development-of-models-to-predict-land-use-induced-soil-pore- space-changes-and-their-hydrological-impacts.html#outline)
- UNU‐MERIT has adopted innovative new analytical approaches (such as big data analysis and application of the new field of econophysics).
3.6 Multi-stakeholder partnerships;
UNU institutes engage in a range of multi-stakeholder partnerships. One example is the UNU-EHS-UNFCCC partnership since 2017 to establish the “UNFCCC – UNU Early Career Climate Fellowship” Programme to offer academically outstanding young graduates from developing countries, particularly women from least developed countries, a unique opportunity to start their career at the interface between international climate policy development and research via fellowship placements at both UNU-EHS and UNFCCC.
Another example is UNU-FLORES’ participation in 2019 in the SDG Global Festival of Action where it co-organised two sessions: 1) in collaboration with UNU-MERIT, the session “Squaring Up for a Circular Economy” aimed to tackle the barriers that prevent us from behaving more sustainably and trigger a different way of thinking through the concept of circular economy (https://flores.unu.edu/en/news/news/squaring-up-for-a-circular-economy-at-the-2019-global-festival-of-action.html?i=KrO0lTvg), and 2) “Co-Producing a City Transformation” in collaboration with the City of Dresden to addressed the challenges of mobilising people and city administration officials to transform their city into a sustainable city (https://flores.unu.edu/en/events/archive/conference/co- producing-a-city-transformation-at-the-sdg-global-festival-of-action.html#overview).
3.7 Bolstering local action and supporting sub-national plans/strategies and implementation for the SDGs;
UNU institutes support sub-national governments with SDG implementation through a range of projects, including:
- UNU-EGOV working jointly with UNDESA, and other e-Government experts, has implemented a pilot study to assess local e- Government progress around the world. The study and the proposed assessment methodology could become a useful tool for municipality managers, public officials, researchers and politicians. The institute is also working with the South Africa Cities Network to develop a South African approach to smart sustainable cities and settlements.
- UNU-FLORES’s project, “Decision Support Framework for Water Reuse in Water-Scarce Regions Involving Risk and Sustainability Assessments” seeks to develop and test a framework that supports decision-making when evaluating the sustainability of water reuse measures in order to reduce the risk of water scarcity (https://flores.unu.edu/en/research/projects/decision-support-framework-for-water- reuse-in-water-scarce-regions-involving-risk-and-sustainability-assessments.html), while its project on “The Role of Citizen Science in Water Quality Monitoring” aims to define the factors that enable and impede effective citizen science activities in the field of water quality monitoring (https://flores.unu.edu/en/research/projects/the-role-of-citizen-science-in-water-quality-monitoring.html#outline).
- UNU-IAS, working with UNECSAP, UN‐Habitat, and other partners, launched the Mayors Academy for Sustainable Urban Development in 2019 ― a new initiative to create and support a network of mayors and other local leaders and mayors in the Asia‒ Pacific region (https://www.asiapacificmayorsacademy.org/about-us). As part of its Governance for Sustainable Development project, UNU-IAS has produced a policy brief, Local Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Arab World: Addressing Constraints & Maximising Opportunities, which examines the results of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) submitted by 15 Arab countries between 2016 and 2019 (https://collections.unu.edu/eserv/UNU:7577/UNU-IAS-PB-No19-2020.pdf).
- UNU-EHS’ project, the Economics of Climate Adaptation Studies (ECA Studies) provides fact-based guidance on climate change adaptation measures to be included in long term (sub-) national plans and strategies (contributing to SDGs 11, 13, and 15), while its Joint Master’s programme effectively links education on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning (SDG 13.3) with the aim to reduce the impact and loss caused by disasters (SDG 11.5). It also aims to reduce disparities in educational access (SDG 4) by ensuring individuals from developing countries, particularly women, are admitted to the programme each year.
3.8 Leveraging interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;
UNU institutes engage in research which contributes to leveraging interlinkages across the SDGs including:
- UNU-FLORES led a session at the “Global Symposium on Soil Erosion (GSER19)” on “Best Practices and Policy to Face Soil Erosion”, discussing water and climate co-benefits in actions to control soil erosion – a major soil threat to global food security (https://flores.unu.edu/en/events/archive/symposium/best-practices-and-policy-to-face-soil-erosion-at-the-global-symposium-on-soil- erosion-gser19.html#overview), while its project “Organic Waste Composting through Nexus Thinking” seeks to fill the gaps from the science to implementation of organic waste composting and to explain its importance in the context of sustainability, circular economy, and waste recycling (https://flores.unu.edu/en/research/projects/organic-waste-composting-through-nexus-thinking.html#outline).
- The Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, a public‒private initiative that includes UNU‐CPR, released its “Blueprint for Mobilizing Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking” in 2019. The project highlights how modern slavery and human trafficking’s intersection with the financial sector touches on a number of other SDG targets including Target 5.2 on violence against all women, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation; Target 8.10 on strengthening the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and to expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all; Target 10.7 on facilitating orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people; Target 16.2 to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children; as well as SDG 17 on collaborating and financing the 2030 agenda.
- UNU-CPR’s MEAC project (see 3.3 above), supports several of the SDGs including SDG 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions), in its efforts to improve the efficacy of UN/multilateral interventions aimed at stopping the cycle of violence, and SDG 1 (no poverty) improving reintegration interventions for individual beneficiaries who exit armed groups, that address physical and psychosocial health and economic opportunities. The collaborative approach also advances SDG17.
- A research report by UNU-CPR. “Conflict Prevention in the Era of Climate Change: Adapting the UN to Climate-Security Risks”, aims to support the UN and its partners in developing climate-sensitive conflict prevention approaches building the evidence base on SDG 16 but also its link with SDG 13 (https://cpr.unu.edu/climate-security.html).
3.9 Supporting policies and strategies to leave no one behind;
A number of UNU projects support policies and strategies for governments and communities to ensure no one is left behind, including:
- In partnership with the Mobile World Capital Foundation, UNU-EGOV’s project “Digital Inclusion for Marginalised Communities” which aims to establish a shared global understanding of digital inclusion metric, particularly for marginalized groups. Another project, “Digital Transformation, Digital Services and Children”, partnering with UNICEF, aims to develop global guidance for governments and UNICEF national chapters on the opportunities and challenges of eServices delivery for children.
- In cooperation with UNEP, UNU-EHS’ PACET programme developed an e-learning training module on migration (“Environmental Impacts of Humanitarian Action with a Focus on Displacement”) in 2019. The course seeks to build capacity with the aim of leaving no one behind.
- Based on in-depth field research in Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia, UNU-CPR’s report “Hybrid Conflict, Hybrid Peace: How Militias and Paramilitary Groups Shape Post-conflict Transitions” aims to understand the role of pro-government militias (PGMs) in conflict and post- conflict settings. Specifically, it investigates how PGMs might help or hurt prospects for sustainable peacebuilding (https://cpr.unu.edu/hybrid-conflict.html).
3.10 Supporting the mobilization of adequate and well-directed financing;
UNU-WIDER’s Domestic Revenue Mobilization (DRM) programme, aims to improve developing countries’ tax systems and strengthen their domestic capacities for revenue collection, leading to increased tax revenues. The four-year programme (2020-23) covers six thematic workstreams: (i) Building up efficient and fair tax systems – lessons based on administrative tax data, (ii) SOUTHMOD ̶ simulating tax and benefit policies for development (Phase 2), (iii) International tax and illicit financial flows, (iv) Fiscal states – the origins and developmental implications, (v) Extractives, and (vi) Domestic savings shortfall in developing countries. Across these themes the activities ultimately provide new insights and tools for policy makers, and foster debate within academia and between academia and policy makers. Capacity-building of tax authorities in the Global South and empowering researchers in developing countries is a common thread throughout all themes (https://www.wider.unu.edu/news/unu-wider-and-norad-agree-new-usd-10-million- research-and-capacity-building-programme-domestic; https://www.wider.unu.edu/project/building-efficient-and-fair-tax-systems- %E2%80%93-lessons-based-administrative-tax-data; https://www.wider.unu.edu/project/southmod-simulating-tax-and-benefit-policies- development-phase-2; https://www.wider.unu.edu/project/extractives-development-e4d; https://www.wider.unu.edu/project/domestic- savings-shortfall-developing-countries-what-can-be-done-about-it).
3.11 Reducing disaster risk and building resilience;
With a number of UNU institutes working in the field of climate change, sustainability, and the environment, a range of projects focus on reducing disaster risk and building resilience. Some examples include:
- UNU-IAS research and expertise has been to contributing to assessments of climate change and disaster impacts at the national, regional, and global levels, providing key scientific inputs for policymaking. UNU-IAS has contributed to reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and UNEP, including the sixth edition of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) released in March 2019. The institute has also produced a report on “Thirty Innovations for Disaster Risk Reduction”, showcasing innovative technologies and approaches for better understanding and managing disaster risks.
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in April 2020 UNU-IAS published an article examining responses to the pandemic at the global, regional, and national levels, and provides recommendations for applying disaster resilience strategies. The article, “Building resilience against biological hazards and pandemics: COVID-19 and its implications for the Sendai Framework“, argues that current mechanisms and strategies for disaster resilience, as outlined in the Sendai Framework, can enhance responses to global pandemics such as COVID-19 (https://collections.unu.edu/eserv/UNU:7614/n1-s2.0-S259006172030017X-main.pdf).
- UNU-IAS has also developed capacity for disaster management in developing countries, through a training programme implemented in October 2019 for 18 officials from the national disaster management agencies of all ten ASEAN countries.
- UNU-EHS is actively engaged in research and policy on disaster risk reduction and building resilience, linking the 2030 Agenda to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Prominent examples in North African countries include the development of a methodology for resilient cities through the integration of risk information into urban disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies, and multi- hazard risk assessment and scenario development to simulate and understand future risk dynamics. To strengthen the resilience of people, households, communities and systems to deal with the adverse impacts of shocks such as extreme weather events, UNU-EHS is involved in a programme supporting Indonesia to establish an adaptive social protection scheme, in line with SDG 1.3 (“implement nationally appropriate social protection schemes and measures for all”), and other SDGs and targets related to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
3.12 Supporting international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership;
Two studies by UNU-CPR demonstrate its work to enhance cooperation between the UN and its agencies to better meet the goals of the 2030 agenda:
- The Centre’s report “UN Transitions: Improving Security Council Practice in Mission Settings” examines the role of the UN Security Council in mandating and overseeing UN transitions, typically as peace operations are drawn down or significantly reconfigured. It contributes to the goal of a more timely, forward-looking and integrated approach to UN transitions that positions the UN to consolidate peacebuilding gains and sustaining peace after mission withdrawal (https://cpr.unu.edu/un-transitions-improving-security- council-practice-in-mission-settings.html).
- UNU-CPR’s policy paper “Conflict Prevention in the Sahel: Emerging Practice Across the UN” aims to directly support the UN’s understanding of the situation in the Sahel, and of the ways in which the UN system in non-mission settings can better respond to current and emerging risks. Acknowledging that the UN reforms are still in early phases of rollout, the paper identifies emerging practice in the UN’s prevention efforts across the Sahel (https://cpr.unu.edu/conflict-prevention-in-the-sahel-emerging-practice-across-the- un.html).
UNU-EGOV has been collaborating with ITU, UNECE and UN-Habitat in the context of U4SSC (United for Smart Sustainable Cities), a global platform to advocate for public policy and encourage the use of ICT to facilitate the transition to smart and sustainable cities.
UNU-EHS has built collaborative networks 1) through its work with the Living Deltas Hub, consisting of 19 research institutions that bring together researchers and stakeholders from around the world, including to promote the SDGs with local communities and policy makers in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam; 2) in its support and technical advisory to both the InsuResilience Global Partnership and the (former) Presidency of the V20 Group (the Republic of the Marshall Islands), elevating vulnerable country perspectives, and supporting the facilitation of cooperation on climate and disaster risk financing and insurance; and 3) through PACET, initiating the University for Climate Action (UNI4CA), an interactive online platform and community of practice with partner organizations and universities to contribute to climate action.
Aligning with the wider UN-Water initiative, each year on World Water Day (22 March) UNU-FLORES contributes to the UN World Water Development Report, coordinated by the UN World Water Assessment Programme of UNESCO. The report is the fruit of collaboration between 31 UN entities and 39 international partners that comprise UN-Water.
UNU also fosters internal collaboration amongst institutes. In 2019 the UNU Water Network (UNU-EHS, UNU-FLORES, UNU-IAS, UNU-INRA, UNU-INWE) was launched with the aim of supporting countries to deliver on SDG 6 and other related SDGs (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 13, and 14). UNU-EHS and UNU-INRA have jointly participation in events within the framework of the UN Climate Summit and Africa Climate Week 2019 as well as hosting a side-event at the HLPF 2019 titled “Science to Power Sustainable Development Goals – 11 Years to Maximise on Synergies and Opportunities between the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030.”
4. The high-level political forum (HLPF) is the central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Has your organization participated in or supported the work of the HLPF? If yes, please specify your involvement in the following areas:
4.1 Supporting the intergovernmental body of your organization in contributing to the thematic review of the HLPF;
UNU does not have an intergovernmental body. It does, however, still contribute to the HLPF thematic reviews.
In 2019, UNU-WIDER participated in several UN events around SDG 10 on inequality including: 1) an event by UNDP and the Human Development Report on measuring inequality in the 21st century, where research findings from the ‘Inequality in the giants’-project were highlighted and discussed (https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/measuring-inequality-21st-century; https://www.wider.unu.edu/project/inequality-giants); and 2) partnering with UNDESA to co-create a workshop on inequality at the UN Secretariat in New York. This workshop brought together key experts on inequality from across the UNU-WIDER network to reflect and debate the lessons learned in measuring and understanding trends in inequality (https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/unu-wider-and- united-nations-department-economic-and-social-affairs-workshop-inequality). The workshop provided an opportunity for the Institute to share insights from the research produced on inequality, as well as the data contained within the World Income Inequality Database (WIID) hosted by UNU-WIDER. The outcomes of these discussions have contributed to an in-depth review of SDG10 which took place in July during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 'Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality (https://www.wider.unu.edu/database/wiid).
4.2 Contributing to policy/background briefs for the HLPF;
In preparation for the HLPF, UNU-EHS supported the Roundtable on Collaborative Climate Action at International Conference on Climate Action – ICCA2019 with a key note address from its former Director. The Institute also supported the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) in developing a framing paper produced for ICCA2019, and commented on the HLCP zero draft on the “UN system-wide strategy on Sustainable Urban Development”.
4.3 Helping organize SDG-specific events in the preparatory process;
4.4 Organizing side events or speaking at the HLPF;
UNU-IAS engaged in policy dialogue on the 2030 Agenda at the global level, with side events at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July and September (SDG Summit) presenting research on Governance for Sustainable Development (GSD) and on landscape management.
UNU-CPR provided logistical support to UNU-EHS and UNU-INRA in organising their joint side event “Science to Power Sustainable Development Goals – 11 Years to Maximise on Synergies and Opportunities between the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030” at the 2019 HLPF (https://enb.iisd.org/hlpf/2019/side-events/9jul.html).
With the Mission of Liechtenstein, UNU-CPR is considering organizing a side event at the 2020 HLPF on issues around modern slavery and financing, dependent on the format it takes.
4.5 Supporting the VNR process.
UNU institutes have supported the VNR process in a number of ways:
- A policy brief produced by UNU-IAS in July 2019, “Governance and National Implementation of the 2030 Agenda: Lessons from Voluntary National Reviews”, presented recommendations on governance and national implementation to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs, based on analysis of 99 recent Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) (https://collections.unu.edu/eserv/UNU:7386/UNU-IAS-PB-No18-2019.pdf).
- Another UNU-IAS policy brief produced in 2020 provides recommendations on local strategies for the SDGs in the Arab world. The brief, “Local Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Arab World: Addressing Constraints & Maximising Opportunities”, examines the results of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) submitted by 15 Arab countries between 2016 and 2019 (https://collections.unu.edu/eserv/UNU:7577/UNU-IAS-PB-No19-2020.pdf).
- An assessment of SDG monitoring frameworks in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam by UNU-EHS in the Living Deltas project is largely based on VNRs. This review and the identification of delta-specific gaps in current monitoring frameworks is guiding data collection across work packages within the Living Deltas research hub to generate a Delta Health Index in each region which crosscuts multiple SDGs. Data from this index will be used to inform future VNRs on delta-level SDG progress
5. How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations to achieve coherence and synergies in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? In this regard, has your organization launched or intend to launch any joint programmes or projects in collaboration with other UN entities? Are there any results or lessons you would like to highlight that might help improve the design and impact of such efforts? Has your organization participated in any of the following coordination systemwide mechanisms or any other relevant platform - CEB, UNSDG, EC-ESA Plus, regional coordination meetings, UN-Energy, UN-Water, UN-Ocean, IAEG, IATT? Please specify which and indicate any suggestions you may have about improving collaborations within and across these mechanisms/platforms.
UNU institutes and programmes frequently seek to cooperate with other UN system organizations to achieve coherence and synergies in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.
One area of cooperation is in UN system-wide water initiatives, including:
- UNU-INWEH’s cooperation with UNDESA to coordinate the UN-Water task force which seeks to implement the 2030 Agenda and water-related SDGs;
- UNU-FLORES’ contributions to the “World Water Development Report” (WWDR) and “Policy Brief on Water and Climate Change”. As part of the work on the UN Environment World Water Quality Assessment, UNU-FLORES participated in the “WWQA 2nd Global Workshop”(https://flores.unu.edu/en/events/archive/workshop/world-water-quality-alliance-wwqa-2nd-global-workshop.html#overview).
- UNU-IAS is a member of the UN-Water Taskforce for the International Decade for Action 2018–2028, and has secured a role as an author of the WWDR 2021.
- In March 2019 UNU-IAS, OHCHR, and UNIC in Tokyo co-organised the “World Water Day 2019 Symposium - The World’s Water in the Era of the SDGs”, bringing together experts on water and human rights to consider how to achieve sustainable development in water and sanitation while leaving no-one behind.
- One of the key products developed by UNU-INWEH is the “SDG Policy Support System” (PSS), designed to assist UN member states achieve their specific national SDG6 targets within their national institutional and policy contexts (http://188.8.131.52/inweh/sdg-policy-support-system/).
Other initiatives include:
- In 2019, to commemorate “UN Day” in Dresden, UNU-FLORES worked together with local partners to organize a week-long programme on the topic of the “Future of Work”, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the International Labor Organization (ILO) (https://flores.unu.edu/en/news/news/sustainable-ideas-for-the-future-of-work-at-un-day-2019-in-dresden.html).
- UNU-IAS is collaborating with UN-ESCAP, UN-HABITAT, and other partners on the Mayors Academy for Sustainable Urban Development (see 3.7 for further details.). A strategic partnership between UNU-IAS and UN-ESCAP has focused on implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Asia-Pacific region (see 3.6 for details.)
- To support SDG 16, UNU-CPR engaged directly with the UN Security Council, briefing it in June 2019 on the findings of its 2018 report “Fairly Clear Risks: Protecting the Legitimacy and Effectiveness of UN Sanctions” during an open debate organized by the Permanent Mission of Kuwait on its working methods on the implementation of ideas from that report (https://cpr.unu.edu/protecting-un- sanctions-legitimacy-and-effectiveness.html; https://cpr.unu.edu/james-cockayne-briefed-united-nations-security-council-on-its-working- methods.html). The Centre’s “Delta8.7” global knowledge platform is UNU-CPR’s contribution to Alliance 8.7, which brings together actors at all levels to collaborate, strategize, share knowledge and ultimately accelerate progress to deliver target 8.7 by 2030 (https://delta87.org/).
- UNU-EHS is part of the INFORM partnership within the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Reference Group “Risk, Early Warning and Preparedness”; together with other UN organizations based in Bonn and further leading international agencies, the Global Mountain Safeguard Research (GLOMOS) programme at UNU-EHS, in cooperation with Eurac Research, aims to contribute to the enhancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), as well as climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR), in global mountain regions; MCII supports the development of the V20-led Sustainable Insurance Facility (SIF), together with the UNEP Financial Initiative Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) Initiative, by means of the provision of technical advice.
- UNU-EHS also intends to launch a new programme together with UNCDF and UNDP called the Pacific Insurance and Climate Adaptation Programme (PICAP) to bring together the expertise in climate risk insurance and research from MCII with the local expertise of the UNDP office in Fiji, and UNCDF’s expertise in the digitalization of financial systems, to develop disaster risk financing and insurance solutions.
- At the 75th Session of UNESCAP, the Director of UNU-WIDER delivered the keynote address in the panel discussion on “Asia- Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report 2019”. This high-level discussion was held as part of the Commission’s Special Body on Least Developed, Landlocked Developing and Pacific Island Developing Countries States. Against this backdrop, UNU-WIDER has been contacted regarding the possibility to partner with UN agencies working in the region. This includes a request from UN-OHRLLS to collaborate with the Institute in the organization of an academic conference in October 2020 aimed at providing the analytical underpinning to the discussions leading up to the Fifth UN conference on the LDCs in 2021 in Doha (SDG 8) (https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/kunal-sen-deliver-keynote-address-during-75th-session-economic-and-social-commission-asia-and; https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/achieving-sustainable-development-least-developed-countries-towards-ldc-v).
6. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups, both in supporting implementation at the country, regional and global levels, and within your own organization? If yes, please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established any multi-stakeholder partnerships to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, please describe them and how their performances are being monitored and reviewed.
UNU is mandated to serve a number of constituencies and, in its activities, works with stakeholders at all levels ― from grass-roots and local groups to national government ministries to regional and international organisations (including other United Nations system entities). In particular, the University serves as a bridge between the United Nations and the global academic community, with the aim of providing a platform for (global and local) dialogue and contributing to research and teaching capacity building (particularly in developing countries).
Given the differing interests and concerns of the various stakeholder groups with which it interacts, UNU strives to contextualize its outputs in terms that are most relevant to each group. The University seeks to ensure that both its research findings, and its researchers, are visible and accessible to stakeholder groups around the world.
Because UNU has institutes/units based in more than a dozen countries, it enjoys a special relationship with these national governments and work with the relevant ministries to ensure that maximum benefits accrue to its host countries.
UNU also conducts collaborative research activities with partners in a variety of economic and industrial sectors, in areas such as environmental monitoring, health, and risk and vulnerability assessment. Such cooperation serves to heighten interest in the University’s research as well as to augment support from private sector entities for UNU activities, including SDG-related work.
- UNU-FLORES and the Saxon State Ministry for Environment and Agriculture organised the very first “Day of Sustainability” in Saxony in 2019 under the topic “Sustainable Management of Resources” (https://flores.unu.edu/en/events/archive/symposium/day-of- sustainability-2019.html#overview).
- UNU-IAS has engaged with Government of Japan (MOEJ and Cabinet Office) and UNDRR in supporting the Joint Initiative on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction which was launched in December 2019 at COP25.
- UNU-CPR is part of a global network of think tanks assessing the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, working in close cooperation with the UN Secretariat and peace operations in the field. The Centre led a team that conducted research in South Sudan in 2019 into the effectiveness and impact of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) (https://cpr.unu.edu/effectiveness-of-peace- operations.html); its collaboration “No Research About Us Without Us” with the non-profit War Child, created a participatory research approach with war-affected children and youth in Central African Republic (https://cpr.unu.edu/no-research-about-us-without-us- participatory-policy-oriented-research-with-children-and-youth-affected-by-conflict.html); while its report, “Unlocking Potential: A Blueprint for Mobilizing Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking” has fed directly into a number of policy channels: UN Business and Human Rights Forum; WEF Davos; OSCE; the Financial Action Task Force; PRI in Person, a UN-supported responsible investment proponent; the Bali Process (https://www.fastinitiative.org/the-blueprint/).
- Annually since 2007, UNU-EHS has collaborated with the University of the Free State and the Disaster Management Training and Education Center for Africa, to offer a block course in South Africa to students, scholars, practitioners and stakeholders on “From Vulnerability to Resilience – Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Development”; as a strategic partner of the UNU-EHS GLOMOS programme, the institute contributes to the UNEP/OCHA Joint Unit (JEU), which helps Member States prepare for, and respond to, environmental emergencies; in the context of supporting the development of the V20-led Sustainable Insurance Facility (SIF), MCII contributed to four in-country stakeholder consultations in Bangladesh and the Philippines
- As part of UNU-WIDER’s ‘Inclusive Growth in Mozambique’ programme, the macroeconomic model for Mozambique, developed by UNU-WIDER Resident Advisors at the Ministry of Economics and Finance, is being used by policy analysts within the ministry for developing their macroeconomic bulletin - a key information leaflet circulated to relevant stakeholders interested in macroeconomic issues in Mozambique (https://igmozambique.wider.unu.edu/); in 2019, UNU-WIDER began collaborating with the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in an effort to use administrative ‘big data’ for policy-relevant tax research and in the development of a tax-benefit microsimulation model for Uganda - a tool for policy makers to analyze the effects of different benefit policy scenarios on poverty, inequality, and government revenues (https://www.wider.unu.edu/about/ugamod-simulating-tax-and-benefit-policies-development- uganda); an integral part of the Institute’s SOUTHMOD project is regular training on the different country tax-benefit microsimulation models for the national stakeholders within the eight countries for which the models have already been developed. The purpose of these events is to provide potential users – local researchers and policy-makers – with a clear understanding of the opportunities inherent to the models (https://www.wider.unu.edu/project/southmod-simulating-tax-and-benefit-policies-development).
7. Has your organization organized any conferences, forums or events designed to facilitate exchange of experience, peer and mutual learning in connection with the SDGs? If yes, please provide a brief summary, below and include lessons learned and gaps identified based on the outcomes of these events. Please also include any events you want to organize in the coming years.
The University convenes numerous events each year; some of these are attended by specialized audiences while others are open to the general public. In addition to offering a venue for sharing knowledge and providing networking opportunities for scholars, researchers, and practitioners, these events serve to extend the impact and the reach of UNU research.
In 2019, UNU organized or co-organized more than 600 events, including 309 seminars/workshops, 80 conferences/symposiums, and 130 lectures/discussions. The topics of these events touched on the full range of the SDGs.
Selected series events organised or co-organised by UNU that are relevant to the SDGs include:
- the annual International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV); the topic of ICEGOV2019 was “Exploring Digital Governance Synergies to Foster Equality, Inclusiveness, and Productivity” (http://www.icegov.org/)
- the UNU-WIDER Development Conference with the theme “Transforming Economies for Better Jobs” (https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/transforming-economies-better-jobs)
- the 2019 Global Development Conference, with the theme “Knowledge for Sustainable Development: The Research‐Policy Nexus” (co‐organised by UNU‐EHS: http://www.gdn.int/conference2019)
- the 11th Conference on Model‐based Evidence on Innovation and Development (co‐hosted by UNU‐MERIT: https://www.merit.unu.edu/events/event-abstract/?id=1917)
- the Dresden Nexus Conference series, which in 2017 explored how the Nexus Approach can contribute to monitoring and implementation of the SDGs and the UN’s New Urban Agenda (https://www.dresden-nexus-conference.org/2017/)
- The 2019 WIDER Annual Lecture, “Informality – addressing the Achilles heel of social protection in Latin America”, in collaboration with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies’ Centre for Finance and Development, discussed the challenges of social protection in economies with large informal sectors, such as in Latin America (SDG 1) (https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/wider- annual-lecture-23-informality-addressing-achilles-heel-social-protection-latin-america)
- the UNU Conversation Series, in which the UNU Rector discusses contemporary global issues with influential experts, world leaders, and distinguished scholars and authors (https://unu.edu/unu-conversation-series)
Among events convened by UNU in 2019 and 2020, the following presents a selection of those with particular relevance to the SDGs:
- At World Water Week 2019 UNU-FLORES co-convened three sessions around the conference theme “Water for society: Including all” (https://flores.unu.edu/en/events/archive/conference/world-water-week-2019.html#overview)
- In 2019, UNU-EGOV organized the event “Progress of Digital Government Transformation: The 2018 UN e-Government Survey” to launch the Portuguese edition of the UN e-Government Survey and discuss how digital technologies can transform governments and foster the sustainability of institutions and countries (https://egov.unu.edu/events/archive/event/egov-survey-guimaraes.html#overview)
- UNU-EHS convened events including 1) PACET co-organized the “Learn4Dev” event in 2019 in collaboration with the German Corporation for International Cooperation, exploring the topic of agile learning and the value of learning resilience in times of change in order to achieve the SDGs; 2) GLOMOS co-organized a collaborative UN system side event together with UNESCO and UN-REDD on the topic of “Nature-Based Solutions on the ground (SDG 15): UN support to people and landscapes” at COP25; 3) with UNFCCC and the Munich Re Foundation, a side event on the topic of “Bridging the Science – Policy Gap: Future Risk and Adaptation Scenarios from the Urban Lenses” at the Bonn Climate Change Conference in June 2019.
- UNU-IAS convened events including 1) a side event at the July 2019 HLPF focusing on community-based approaches to landscape management, co-organised with the CBD Secretariat; 2) a side event at the September 2019 HLPF that discussed government initiatives and stakeholder partnerships for achieving the SDGs; 3) a side event at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) on “The Role of Higher Education for Achieving the SDGs”, co-organised with UNESCO; 4) a session “Next Step of ESD for Achieving the SDGs” organised at the 11th International Forum for Sustainable Asia and the Pacific (ISAP2019) in Yokohama, engaging experts from UNESCO and universities; and 5) at the World Urban Forum (WUF10) in February 2020, UNU-IAS co-organised sessions as part of the Asia-Pacific Mayors Academy (see 3.7 for further details).
- UNU-CPR holds multiple public convenings as well as in private to preview or review research projects including:
- 1) convening a panel and reception on Participatory Policy Research with Children and Youth Affected by Conflict (2019) including a showcase reception’ that allowed participants to engage informally with the panelists about their initiatives with conflict-affected children and youth;
- 2) multiple events by the FAST project including the release of the report, “Unlocking Potential: A Blueprint for Mobilizing Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking” during the UNGA74 High-Level Week (other events: https://www.fastinitiative.org/get-involved/previous- events/);
- 3) the first Code 8.7 event held in 2019 which brought more than 120 people from the computational research and artificial intelligence communities with those working to achieve SDG Target 8.7: https://delta87.org/code87/;
- 4) Preventing Violent Conflict: the Climate Security Nexus workshop (2020), an expert roundtable on the links between climate change and conflict;
- 5) the launch of the report, “UN Sanctions and Mediation: Establishing Evidence to Inform Practice”, the culmination of an 18-month policy research project with partners from The Graduate Institute, Geneva, and Swisspeace, at an event convened at the Mission of Switzerland in the presence of a large number of Security Council members, well as Geneva to a large number of Member State representatives (https://cpr.unu.edu/un-sanctions-and-mediation-establishing-evidence-to-inform-practice-2.html)
8. Is there any other information you would like to share, including annual reports of your organization and any impact assessment or evaluation reports? If yes, please use the space below and attach the document(s). Please also use this space to provide any other information, comments or remarks you deem necessary.
The UNU Sustainable Development Explorer (https://unu.edu/explore), launched in January 2018, is an online portal that presents the “who” and “what” of UNU’s work on each of the 17 SDGS. It features selected UNU research projects as well as experts, articles, and publications.
Recent UNU Annual Reports (https://unu.edu/publications/annual-reports) focus on how the work and activities of UNU are aligned with, and support achievement of, the SDGs. As mandated by its Charter, UNU reports annually “to the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Executive Board of UNESCO ... on the work of the University” (e.g., https://undocs.org/E/2019/8).
Each year, UNU produces hundreds of publications: reports, working/discussion papers, peer-reviewed articles, books, policy briefs, etc. More than 5,700 of these publications are available online at no cost at Collections at UNU (http://collections.unu.edu/). Those explicitly relevant to the SDGs can be found by searching for “SDGs” or “Sustainable Development Goals”.
9. In your view, what should strategic directions look like for the UN system in support of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs in the Decade of Action? What key elements should they include and what major challenges should they address?
To be effective, the strategic plan should recognize the linkages between the individual goals/targets, and focus on better harnessing the synergies and effectively managing the tradeoffs inherent in action and implementation. Further, it should help to ensure that activities and policies are evidence-based, reflecting the findings of unbiased, interdisciplinary research.
10. Please suggest one or two endeavours or initiatives that the UN system organizations could undertake together to support the implementation of the SDGs between now and 2030.
1. Re Pandemics:
- An UN wide position paper on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the achievement of Agenda 2030;
- Stronger integration of pandemics as (global) hazards (possibly even at the global level) into national contingency planning and DRR policies;
- More targeted support by UN agencies to LDCs and countries in conflict affected states to address the adverse effects of the pandemic on the SDGs.
2. Leveraging modern technology to establish a UN-wide e-learning network that connects all e-learning activities and resources within the UN system, with the overarching aim to foster joint, life-long learning and collaboration, particularly during times of crisis.