Written by Jenny Hagen and Sara Alonso
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 globally agreed ambitious goals to move the world to a more sustainable future by 2030. G-STIC, the Global Science, Technology and Innovation Conference series, is a new cutting-edge global conference focused on integrated technological solutions to help achieve the SDGs and Agenda 2030. The G-STIC 2017 was the first in a series of conferences gathering industry delegates, technology developers, researchers, socio-economic actors and policy makers, across industries and governmental departments, as an initiative of the growing movement toward the adoption and dissemination of integrated technological solutions needed for achieving the SDGs, at local, national, regional and global levels. G-STIC is intended to foster a global innovation community for promoting the use of appropriate and already existing technologies in order to achieve Agenda2030. The next G-STIC conference will be held in Brussels, 28-30 November, 2018.
Four thematic islands were designated in the conference hall: the Water Island, the Energy Island, the Gender Island and the Youth Island, hosting various activities. At the Youth Island, a series of workshops were organized by youth-led organizations and young participants. These included discussions on the future of cities, resilience in the Anthropocene, a mini-policy ideathon – and the human right to water and sanitation towards implementing SDG6. The conference comprised of twelve conference themes, of which two specifically targeted SDG6: Smart Water Solutions and Waste Water as a Resource.
During the thematic sessions on waste water, it was agreed that new approaches are needed to achieve a cost-positive waste water treatment process, in which different sectors (water, energy and agriculture) may benefit from policies and regulations. Smart Water Solutions highlighted the need to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT), to make use of data and imaging contributing to “Water Watch” and monitoring; for this, citizen engagement and data collection should be reinforced and combined with remotely sensed data. Smart Water Solutions specifically highlighted the need to stimulate governments, industries and researchers to collectively share data. New and interesting ideas from both developing and developed countries were presented – for instance, the use of freely available Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) from navigation equipment in autonomous cars!
Policy Director for G-STIC, Veerle Vandeweerd.
Youth engagement was coordinated by the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY). Throughout the conference, youth engagement was a cross-cutting theme, and the UN MGCY served as a strategic partner to the G-STIC organizers to maximize meaningful youth participation in all parts of the program. This gave the opportunity to over 75 students, scientists and engineers to attend the conference and work collectively to enhance the recognition and engagement of youth in the dialogue. During a preparatory meeting in the House of the European History, youth participants got the opportunity to meet the Policy Director for the G-STIC conference series, Veerle Vandeweerd.
Sara Alonso (WYN) engaging at the Youth Island.
Donovan Guttieres from UN MGCY speaking at the closing ceremony on youth perspectives related to appropriate use of ST&I for Achieving the 2030 Agenda.
Representatives of the Water Youth Network provided a workshop in collaboration with representatives from Young Water Solutions. Two youth-led initiatives were presented: the YouKnow Platform and the Young Water Fellowship. After a short presentation, the audience was split into groups for discussion and brainstorming on how these initiatives may be further developed and improved. As the YouKnow platform is in early stages of development, WYN participants received useful and inspiring ideas that are currently being implemented on the website.
Sara Alonso and Jenny Hagen presenting the YouKnow platform at the Youth Island.
Youth participants proposed the following take home-messages of G-STIC 2017 related to youth and their integration in the science, technology and innovation:
Young scientists, engineers, innovators and practitioners are invited to collaborate actively in discussions about science, technology and innovations evidence-base practices to inform policy design and an effective use of knowledge by means of the Science Policy Platform (SPI).