Tag Archives: innovation

Science for Sustainable Development: Are We Ready for the Change?


When the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was launched in 2015, it was based on five key elements: people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. At the time, none of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were solely dedicated to science or scientific research. However, this does not undermine the role of science in development. In fact, the Sustainable Development Agenda calls for strengthening the integration of science and technology into the various aspects of life so that they can maximize their impact on human development. Moreover, SDG 9 — build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation — calls for countries to measure their spending on research and development.

Nowadays, people look to science, technology, and innovation as enablers for economic development and as a means to improve quality of life. Scientists and researchers are not only able to propose knowledge-based solutions for current challenges, but more importantly, they own the knowledge, data, and credibility needed to embark on the rapidly changing future.

In 2019, the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) published a report titled ‘Improving Scientific Input to Global Policymaking with a Focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.’ This report discussed a number of ways scientists and researchers could contribute to inclusive sustainable development. These include channeling research towards the identification and analysis of the interactions between different SDGs as well as proposing solutions that can enhance development impact.

Additionally, the report called for new approaches to engaging researchers in the design, measurement, and analysis of the SDGs indicators. These recommendations include carrying out more research in the area of ‘complex systems sciences’ to deepen the understanding of the earth’s carrying capacity and enable more innovations in the area of natural resources management. In addition, the report asks for the maintenance of a readily accessible electronic database of all studies and research related to sustainable development and SDGs.

Some countries have already started research projects around complex sustainable development challenges. Through this, they are attempting to better understand the interactions between SDGs and to propose solutions and/or scenarios with calculated trade-offs. For example, researchers in India are analyzing potential compromises between the expansion of agricultural land and biodiversity conservation and low carbon practices. Researchers in Africa tackle the impact phasing out fossil fuels may have on job creation, while others investigate food security within cities in relation to urban planning.

In my country, Jordan, we aim to strengthen the role of social sciences and humanities in applied research and innovation through a collaborative initiative called “El Hassan Research Chair in Sustainability.” Such research projects and initiatives not only enrich the contributions of science into the SDGs, but more importantly, influence the impact of the sustainable development agenda locally, regionally, and globally.

Beyond individual projects, strengthening the role of scientific research and science institutions in the development agenda is will help the enhancement and coordination of the supply and demand of science and technology. Several measures can assist in this endeavor, provided it is backed up by collective ownership and strong will.

Such measures may include transforming planning and decision-making processes to become more science and evidence-based, building trust and feasible partnership models between the generators and users of knowledge (industry, government, civil society organizations, and other national actors), institutionalizing national dialogue around development priorities and their interactions with science, and ultimately reaching a revolution in how researchers and innovators design their projects for maximum social impact.

So, are we ready to bring the discussion around the role of science and technology in sustainable development from global to local? Do we have the luxury of time to re-think our planning approach for both sustainability as well as research and innovation, or should we seize the time of crisis to infuse the aspired change? And, how would such change contribute to making the world a better and more livable place?

My article on Medium as part of my Plus Social Good contributions. “Science for Sustainable Development: Are we We Ready for the Change?” by +SocialGood https://link.medium.com/8RkqUipUD6

العالم ما بعد “كورونا”: إعادة تعريف التنمية البشرية


بقلم: ربى الزعبي

كحال كثيرين حول العالم، أحاول التكيف مع متطلبات الحياة الشخصية والمهنية المصاحبة لانتشار فيروس كورونا. الأزمة العالمية تعيد تعريف وتحفيز العديد من الخصال والمبادئ والقيم البشرية، مثل العناية الشخصية، والتوازن الحياتي، والتطوير الذاتي، ومساعدة الآخرين، والاهتمام بالبيئة وغيرها.

لنأخذ حماية البيئة مثالا في ضوء ما تناقلته وسائل الإعلام من مواقف وآراء حول التأثيرات المحتملة لجائحة كورونا على بعض القضايا البيئية الساخنة مثل التغير المناخي والتنوع الحيوي. يتوارد للذهن تساؤلات عديدة: هل يصبح فيروس كورونا المنقذ الموعود من تلوث الهواء وانبعاثات غازات الدفيئة؟ هل جلبنا نحن البشر الفيروس بعبثنا بالنظم الحيوية والبيئية؟ وهل من دروس تستقى من تجربة كورونا وترشد التنمية البشرية بصورتها الجديدة؟

قبل أيام، صرحت رئيسة برنامج الأمم المتحدة للبيئة أن البشرية تعرض الطبيعة لضغوطات كبيرة وذات تبعات مدمرة، محذرةً من أن الفشل في العناية بكوكبنا يعني فشلنا في العناية بأنفسنا. وأوضحت أنه لم يسبق وانتقل هذا العدد من مسببات الأمراض من الحيوان إلى الإنسان حيث وصلت نسبة الأمراض المنقولة من الحياة البرية إلى 75% من مجمل الأمراض المعدية المستجدة.

حث علماء المناخ، بدورهم، الشعوب على اتخاذ خطوات واقعية للاستعداد لمستقبل تحفه المخاطر الناتجة عن النتائج الوخيمة لتغير المناخ.

لعالم ما بعد “كورونا”، بغض النظر عن التواريخ والمدد، بدأت الاقتصادات والمؤسسات التمويلية تجري حساباتها ولا تبدو الصورة مشرقة. صندوق النقد الدولي صرح أن الاقتصاد العالمي سيدخل في حالة ركود، أما البنك الدولي ومؤسسة التمويل الدولية فقد أقرا حزمة إضافية من التمويل السريع مقدارها 14 مليار دولار لمساعدة الشركات والدول على مكافحة الفيروس والتعامل معه والحد من انتشاره.

البلدان المتضررة، بدورها، تتبنى إجراءات شرسة للتخفيف من الأضرار الاقتصادية خلال الأزمة، بيد أنها ستحتاج إجراءات أكثر صرامة لإنعاش اقتصاداتها عقب انحسار أزمة كورونا. أما الشعوب، مثلنا نحن الأردنيون، ممن وضعتهم دولهم في قمة أولوياتها، فسيستحثون الهمم لرد الجميل والنهوض بالتنمية والاقتصاد من خلال خطط ومشاريع تعوض ما فات وتمنح الأمل في حياة أفضل.

ومع ذلك؛ هل ستستطيع الاقتصادات الناشئة الصمود أمام ركود اقتصادي جديد؟ وهل من المنطقي الاستناد في التخطيط لمرحلة ما بعد كورونا على دراسات وتقارير وبيانات ما قبل كورونا؟ وهل ستحمل مفاهيم التنمية البشرية والتوظيف والضمان الاجتماعي المعاني نفسها التي تحملها اليوم؟ وهل يتوقع العالم أزمة أو أزمات جديدة نتيجة التباطؤ في اتخاذ قرارات حاسمة

عناوين التغير المناخي والتدهور البيئي لا تروق لكثيرين حاليا، لكننا لا نستطيع إنكار أن السنوات القليلة الماضية كانت ثقيلة على الناس والحكومات. فالأبنية والبنية التحتية والخدمات الأساسية وسلامة الإنسان وصحته لم تكن في أفضل حالاتها. الآثار السلبية المباشرة وغير المباشرة للتغير المناخي أصبحت أكثر وضوحاً، بينما إجراءات التصدي لتغير المناخ تلوح على استحياء في بعض الدول والمناطق دون غيرها.

في الأردن، مثلا، فقدنا أرواحا غالية قبل سنوات وما يزال كثير منا يعانون تبعات الفيضانات والجفاف. يفاقم مثل هذه الآثار على المستوى الوطني تحديات أخرى كزيادة عدد السكان (وتبعات اللجوء) والبطالة وتحديات أمن المياه والطاقة. الأردن أنجز خطوات مهمة في التوسع باستخدام الطاقة النظيفة، لكنه ما يزال في أول الطريق وبحاجة إلى تعاون عربي ودولي للاستمرار وللتكيف مع آثار تغير المناخ الاقتصادية والاجتماعية.

لكن هل ستعيق أزمة فيروس كورونا التحول العالمي نحو الطاقة المتجددة؟ وهل يتحتم علينا مراجعة اتفاق باريس والأهداف التي نص عليها بسبب التأخر المتوقع في الإنجاز؟ وهل يمكن لتمويل المناخ والاقتصاد الأخضر تقديم حل ناجع لإنعاش الاقتصادات المتضررة، وربما لتطوير نهج أكثر إنسانية للتخطيط التنموي؟

ثلاثة دروس تظهر بوضوح هنا: الأول أن البيئة المحيطة تبدو أكثر صحة ونظافة في زمن الكورونا، ما يعني أن إجراءات حاسمة قليلة قد تصنع فرقا كبيرا في نسب التلوث البيئي. والثاني أنه من المتأخر جدا البدء في اتخاذ إجراءات وقائية عند وصول الخطر أو بيان الأثر، وأما الدرس الثالث فهو أننا يجب أن نعي أن التحديات المحيطة ستصبح أكثر تشعباً وتعقيداً وتداخلاً، وليس من المقبول أن نعلق القرارات والإجراءات اللازمة لمجابهة تحد معين فقط لأن تحديا آخر ظهر فجأة. أي تقاعس عن التعامل مع أحد تحديات التنمية البشرية يعد أفضل مسرّع للأزمات والكوارث الإنسانية.

من المنطقي أن تُنجب التحديات غير التقليدية حلولا غير تقليدية. يطلق العالم اليوم نداء عاجلا للعلماء على تنوع اختصاصاتهم، وهم أصحاب المعرفة والمصداقية، ليس فقط لإيجاد تفسيرات وحلول لمشاكل اليوم، وإنما لاستشراف المستقبل بكل تعقيداته وفرصه، ومن ثم توجيه خطط التنمية البشرية نحو مستقبل أكثر أمنا وسلامة.

المقال منشور من قبل معهد غرب آسيا وشمال أفريقيا shorturl.at/fozW5

Innovating for Sustainable Development – it’s everyone’s business!


For decades, science, technology, and innovation were exclusive elements for more developed countries. Investment in research and development is still as low as it could get in developing countries. Even with the most talented individuals, research and development are confined within labs with minimal market and public interaction. This cannot be the case anymore as collective local actions are instrumental for global change.

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) not only highlight innovation as a goal but also emphasize the value of innovation to achieve other goals. Whether it be education, energy, health, climate change or poverty that we strive to address, science, technology, and innovation will need to be tackled in a participatory and inclusive manner to ensure benefit to the public. Building sustainable economic clusters and social businesses around new technologies are only possible though widely-enabled innovations from the full spectrum of community; including women, youth and indigenous communities. Connecting local technological needs with global opportunities is a common challenge in many countries that requires us all to be more conscious of market dynamics and social inclusiveness. The ability to recognize local technological needs and capabilities is core to create a value proposition that maximizes economic productivity and competitiveness.

Boosting local innovation might be the magical recipe for progressing on sustainable development goals if the ingredients are made available. Less developed countries need support to shape suitable models for innovation within the context of sustainable development. Lessons learned so far indicate that the public sector might not be the key driver for innovation. Businesses, on the other hand, play a substantial role in accelerating innovation as investors and consumers. However, the real catalysts for sustainable innovation are not yet fully empowered. Universities, research institutions, think tanks and NGOs are requested to step into the driver seat to define the needs and connect the dots. These players should be better equipped to understand local development challenges and convert them into innovation opportunities. Civil society organizations and scientists combining both knowledge and community power can advocate for an inclusive and enabling policy and regulatory environment that bolsters and celebrates local innovation.
http://www.missionandco.com/single-post/2017/07/25/Innovating-for-Sustainable-Development-%E2%80%93-it%E2%80%99s-everyone%E2%80%99s-business

People are at the heart of action for a more sustainable world


My top 4 inspiring messages from the International Government Communication Forum 2017:1. You are good enough… you are powerful!

Inspired by my interview with Prof. Muhammad Yunus

Young people are powerful and with technology at the tip of their fingers, they are extra powerful. If you don’t realize that you have the power, you won’t be able to use it. If each of the leaders in this world looked in the eyes of a young person and said that statement, miracles will happen! Despite the global slogans on youth empowerment, that action could be very simple and effective. Think big and then test your idea on a small scale. But always believe you are capable of achieving your dream.

2. From vision to reality… Youth are the core of sustainability!

Inspired by my interview with HE Dr Thani AlZeyoudi

Proper planning is key to transforming vision into reality. My part of world has not been keen to have long-term plans due to several factors on top of which is the regional instability and scarce natural resources. The UAE Cabinet just announced its Centennial 2071 project to make the UAE the best country in the world by 2071. Zooming into the environment and climate change sectors, the UAE is already making steps towards a happy and sustainable society.

While investing in renewable energy generation, the efficiency of buildings and manufacturing, HSE standards for the Oil & GAS industry, modernizing transportation infrastructure and fleet, using renewable energy for water desalination, and many other green growth strategies; the UAE is also investing in its youth. The upcoming challenge they seek to tackle is the transformation towards the knowledge economy. Youth are part of climate change meetings and conferences (including COP). Dr. Thani discussed a youth council was established at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to ensure the voice of the future is heard in all their strategic meetings. The UAE has also started an initiative to create a network of climate negotiators with focus on youth engagement because youth are at the heart of sustainability!

3. Conventional businesses, FYI — CSR is out of date!

Inspired by my interview with Prof. Muhammad Yunus

Almost 1% of world’s population owns 99% of world’s wealth. Yunus warns that with time, things will get worse. He advocates for a new sector: the citizens sector. This sector would work on solving problems in a business-oriented way, what is called a social business. A social business is a non-dividend company created to solve your problems. While conventional businesses are profit-oriented and potentially use corporate social responsibility concept to show they care about social issues; Yunus calls for partnerships and joint ventures between the conventional businesses and social businesses to move from CSR towards creating sustainable social impact. Conventional businesses have a lot of experience in running businesses and social innovators have a lot of passion to solve the world’s problems. Let’s start today and find a good match to make an impact!

4. You and I should change the machine!

Inspired by my interview with Prof. Muhammad Yunus

I’ve learned that there is a ‘right’ microcredit and a ‘wrong’ microcredit. If microcredit is helping the poor improve their lives, then it is the ‘right’ one. But if it helps rich people make money then it the ‘wrong’ one. Using Yunus’s words, microcredit is financial oxygen and once supplied to poor people, they are brought back to life and productivity. Looking at how this is done today in many parts of the world, a change is indeed needed.

A re-design of the financial system to ensure that the wealth distribution gap is reduced and that innovative financing models are tailored to suit the needs of the poor. Who would lead this re-design process? You and I, as per Prof. Yunus. People made the financial machine and if it is harmful to us, we should not continue using it. You and I can change the machine and we shouldn’t wait for someone else to do that. Boosting local green and social solutions require a new way of doing things and a new financing machine. In Bangladesh, over 1.5 million homes use solar energy because of an innovative financing machine that has been operational for 18 years. Just think of the huge potential for massive climate solutions that better people’s lives.

Contributed to the +SocialGood platform:
View at Medium.com

Green Careers – what are we missing in the educational system?


I was lucky enough to join the Green Careers booth at the International Youth Day celebrations in Irbid organised by USAID. The experience was rich as it made me realise how little environmentalists are doing to empower each other and to give hope to the new green generations. Young Engineering students already had pre expectations that the main challenge in their career is going to be unequal employment opportunities. I had to listen and try to change that perception while inside my head wondered what if that is really the case. After overcoming that first point, we started real talk about:
– the right attitude… What impression am I giving.
– how can I stay up to date with sector development and priorities (energy, environment and water).
– with over 112000 registered engineers in Jordan, how can I build my competitive edge.
– in the CV and during interview, how can I show my added value to the company.
– what would an employer like to see in my CV as a fresh graduate.
– does voluntary work count.

I know I wanted to keep doing this… And reach out to all those feeling its a curse to study green … If I can’t… We all can try though.

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