Sustainable Development Goal Conference Bergen
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 global goals, set to ensure a sustainable future for everyone. The goals are intended to be achieved by 2030, which means that this is the decade for action, and that was the main message at this year’s SDG Conference in Bergen. This national conference gathers people working with sustainability from all parts of society: politicians, businesses, entrepreneurs and of course academics from every discipline. Our group member, Clare, joined the conference as a part of the University of Oslo delegation, and was one of few biologists attending...
The University of Oslo has a goal to reduce plane travel by 10% in 2020, and so to encourage its delegates to travel in the most sustainable way, they booked an entire train carriage to transport UiO delegates over the mountains to Bergen. This “Sustain-train” or “No-shame-train” served as an exciting preparation for the conference, with talks, speeches, activities and even a music concert to get everyone discussing how small changes, or ‘tipping points’, can lead to larger social and environmental transformations. Clare presented the results from her master thesis, about environmental pollution in Norwegian killer whales, in the context of SDG 14 which is about protecting life under water.
The conference was run over three days, with the first one consisting of workshops, and the last two days speeches and panel debates on various aspects of the SDGs. Clare attended a workshop on Ocean Health on the first day, and ended up joining the panel debate as “the pollution expert”. It was a good opportunity to clear up the common misconception that pollution = plastic, and that the potentially more serious pollution problems are from invisible chemicals than from visible plastic. The recent news stories in Norwegian media about PFAS and siloxanes were useful examples!
The next conference days were more focused on social sciences, policy, and how different groups can work together across sectors and faculties to achieve the SDGs. The last session was particularly interesting when the head of the student parliament in Bergen really challenged the panellists to commit to various actions, and answer some tricky questions (e.g. about the role of oil and gas in the Norwegian economy). The enthusiasm and determination from all the student delegates was impressive, and highlighted another main point of the conference: that it is the younger generation who have most at stake in talks about the future and it is they who are spurring the sustainable movement onwards.
We as a research group are proud to be actively working to meet the SDGs by 2030, and excited to see what future projects and collaborations are to come!