IIASA Energy, Climate, and Environment Program Director, Keywan Riahi, will participate in the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2021 to discuss scenarios and possible medium- and long-term trends in the COVID-19 recovery and achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Guidelines © UN SDGs

The 2021 UN High-Level Political Forum focuses on  sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.  

Riahi, who is one of the UN 10-Member-Group of High-level Representatives to support the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, will join ministers, national political leaders, and academic luminaries representing a range of countries in the High Level Segment of the UN Economic and Social Council. He will participate in an interactive panel that will explore cooperative, near-term actions for transforming service efficiencies; discuss the application of new technologies that have potential long-term positive impacts; and highlight scenarios for achieving sustainable development in the long term within the context of the current pandemic. 


Scenarios and possible medium and long-term trends in the COVID-19 recovery and achievement of the SDGs 

Proposed guiding questions: 

  • How can national COVID-19 recovery plans incorporate innovations to reduce inequalities and bridge the digital divide over the medium and long-term?
  • What strategies are being adopted to ensure that financial stimulus packages are applied toward sustainable solutions for a resilient recovery?
  • What are some examples of national legal, policy, and institutional measures that can enable better social protection and healthcare systems as part of sustainable and resilient recovery strategies?
  • What are immediate examples of near-term decisions to ensure long-term positive outcomes in areas of food security, education, energy, and transport?
  • How can we achieve the best-case scenario whereby mobilization of technologies and other policies allows the world to realize the SDGs by 2030?
  • How can women be empowered to contribute to recovery strategies, so that gender perspectives are well represented?


  • H.E. Munir Akram (Pakistan), President of Economic and Social Council 

Keynote address

  • Bertrand Piccard, Founder and Chairman of the Solar Impulse

Foundation Interactive panel discussion


  • H.E. Daniella Tilbury, Commissioner for Sustainable Development and Future Generations, Gibraltar  


  • Keywan Riahi, IIASA Energy, Climate, and Environment Program Director
  • Paula Caballero, Managing Director, Lands for Life Program, Rare, USA
  • Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh, and UN Committee for Development Policy 

Lead discussant

  • Felix Dodds, Adjunct Professor, Water Institute in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of North Carolina


  • H.E. Omar Razzaz, former Prime Minister of Jordan
  • H.E. Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin, Republic of Congo, and Chair of the Seventh Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development
  • H.E. Dinesh Gunawardena, Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka
  • H.E. Rita Schwarzeluehr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany


The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is the core UN platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The 2021 event will focus on ways to ensure a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19 that puts us on track to realize the 2030 Agenda. Ministers and other participants will be able to explore various aspects of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts. They will discuss the kind of policies and international cooperation that can control the pandemic and its impacts and put the world back on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030, within the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.

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