21 April 2016
United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA

High-level thematic debate on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

IIASA Deputy Director General Nebojsa Nakicenovic addressed the UN General Assembly as part of the opening ceremony of a high-level debate on how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Nakicenovic was joined by IIASA Distinguished Visiting Fellow Jeffrey Sachs.

© United Nations

© United Nations

The debate was attended by a number of heads of state and government and ministers. Leaders from business, philanthropy, academia and civil society also participated. This event brought together global political, business and civil society leaders in New York to focus on kick starting implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Declared candidates seeking to become the next Secretary-General of the United Nations were also invited so that they are fully aware of what is required in this area, if selected. Sessions were dedicated to five focus areas, selected to contribute to the above outcomes with a cross-cutting focus on gender equality and capacity building:

1. Action at all levels

2. Financing poverty eradication and sustainable development

3. Technology and information for decision-making

4. Partnerships for the implementation of SDGs

5. Climate action in the context of sustainable development.

IIASA Deputy Director General Nebojsa Nakicenovic and IIASA Distinguished Visiting Fellow Jeffrey Sachs joined the high-level debate on how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.


Following this event, Nakicenovic joined the 10-member group to Support the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (STI) for the Policy Dialogue Room on Realizing the potential of science, technology and innovation for the SDGs: opportunities and challenges for maximizing the contribution of STI and deploying existing knowledge.

The purpose of this ‘policy dialogue room’ was to bring together high-level representatives from various stakeholder groups for a focused discussion around two key questions in relation to how STI will contribute to the SDGs. First, what are the main opportunities and challenges - at policy, organisational and individual levels - for maximizing the contribution of STI to the achievement of the SDGs? Second, how can we deploy existing knowledge and new, innovative solutions and technologies and make them more readily available to those who need them?

IIASA research and the SDGs

IIASA is leading new research projects providing scientific support for the implementation of the SDGs to 2030 and beyond:

In addition, IIASA research on energy and climate played an important role in several of the SDGs: the 2012 Global Energy Assessment provided the backbone for the quantitative goals in SDG7, which is focused on energy. IIASA research related to climate change has also provided important inputs to SDG13, which is focused on climate change mitigation.


IIASA researchers have also already begun working closely with policymakers on questions about SDG implementation. At the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group meeting earlier this month, the group released a statement identifying the key next steps for achieving the SDGs. 

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Last edited: 22 April 2016


Nebojsa Nakicenovic

Emeritus Research Scholar

Transitions To New Technologies

T +43(0) 2236 807 411


A new nexus for sustainable development


Lu Y, Nakicenovic N , Visbeck M, & Stevance A-S (2015). Five priorities for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Nature 520 (7548): 432-433. DOI:10.1038/520432a.

Kromp-Kolb H, Nakicenovic N , & Steininger K (2014). Austrian Assessment Report 2014 (AAR14) - Austrian Panel on Climate Change (APCC). Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. ISBN 978-3-7001-7699-2 DOI:10.1553/aar14.

Watson R, Nakicenovic N , Rosenthal E, Goldenberg J, Amann M, & Pachauri S (2014). Tackling the Challenge of Climate Change: A Near-term Actionable Mitigation Agenda. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

GEA Writing Team (2012). Global Energy Assessment: Toward a Sustainable Future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521182935

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