Tag Archives: science

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

Post-Coronavirus World: Human Development Re-defined


By: Ruba A. Al Zubi

Like many of you around the globe, I have been adjusting with the exigencies of the spread of COVID-19, both personally and professionally. The crisis is rejuvenating human traits and values from various angles. Self-care, life balance, personal development, helping others, and considering the environment are just a few of many values and principles that are boiling down these days.

Let’s take environmental values as an example with the several statements issued lately about the potential impact of Coronavirus on some of the hot green issues of today, Climate Change and Biodiversity. A few questions come to mind – though I don’t claim to know the answers for: is COVID-19 becoming the nature’s savior from air pollution and GHG emissions? Have we – humans – brought in Coronavirus by disrupting the ecosystems? Are there any lessons from the Coronavirus era that can guide human development in its new form?

A few days ago, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Inger Andersen, said that humanity was placing too many pressures on the natural world with damaging consequences, and warned that failing to take care of the planet meant not taking care of ourselves. She also highlighted that never before have so many opportunities existed for pathogens to pass from wild and domestic animals to people, noting that 75% of all emerging infectious diseases come from wildlife. Within the same context, climate scientists urged nations to act now and prepare for a risky future of extreme climate change consequences.

Let’s try to imagine the world post COVID-19, regardless of when that is going to be. Economies and financial institutions are already doing the math, and the picture doesn’t look good. The IMF recognized that the coronavirus crisis will plunge the world economy into recession, and the World Bank and IFC’s Boards of Directors approved an increased $14 billion package of fast-track financing to assist companies and countries in their efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Countries are taking drastic economic relief measures during the crisis and would be in severe need for more aggressive economic recovery plans after this is all over. People, like us Jordanians – who have been put as a top priority by our leadership and government during the crisis; are keen to return this back through engaging in local economic development projects and enterprises.

A new set of questions arise: how would emerging economies survive another recession? How logical would it be to go back to reports and studies from the pre-Coronavirus era to plan for the future? Would human development, job creation and social security still mean the same as they do now? And, should the world expect another crisis due to the ignorance and/or lack of action by decision-makers?

Climate change and biodegradation might not be the most appealing headlines to many, nowadays. Nevertheless, no one would deny that the past couple of years were not easy on people and governments. Buildings, infrastructure, basic services and people’s health and safety; were not at their best. The direct and indirect impact of climate change on economies and communities is becoming more visible, while action is not as visible despite the relatively increased attention in some regions.

In Jordan, for example, we lost lives, and many are suffering the consequences of floods and droughts. Such impacts are magnified by the increased population (hosted refugees), unemployment and the challenging water and energy supplies. We have taken serious steps to strengthen clean energy penetration but with huge dependence on across-borders collaboration.

One more set of questions comes up: would the global transition towards clean energy be hindered by Coronavirus crisis? Would the Paris Agreement targets need to be adjusted to reflect further delay in action? Could climate financing and green economy form a feasible solution to recover the suffering economies and create more humane economic development plans?

Three possible takeaways from Coronavirus experience – at least from my own perspective; the first is that yes, the world smells, looks, and feels more clean, which means a few measures can make a difference when it comes to the environment; the second takeaway is that it might be too late to intervene once the impact has arrived; and last but not least, one should realize that challenges will continue to become more complex and interrelated so, we cannot stop acting on a problem just because another one has just emerged. Delaying action on any human development challenge is a recipe for crisis.

Unconventional challenges should inspire unconventional solutions. Scientists from all disciplines are called upon today as the most knowledgeable and credible to not only analyze and solve today’s problems; but more importantly to anticipate the future with all its complexity, and to guide our human development plans towards a more livable planet.

Article published on EcoMENA
https://www.ecomena.org/post-coronavirus-world-human-development-redefined/

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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