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How do Université Côte d'Azur researchers contribute to the sustainable development goals?

Université Côte d'Azur, the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) and the Côte d'Azur Regional Delegation of the CNRS met for a workshop in Sophia Antipolis on March 22, 2019, to reflect on the contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Université Côte d'Azur's research programs and of the Villefranche-sur-Mer oceanography laboratory.

Publication : 03/05/2019
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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the 193 countries of the United Nations, including France, propose a universal program to achieve sustainable development by 2030. The objective is to involve all the institutional actors and civil society at national, regional and local level in implementing them. The Goals cover all aspects of sustainable development including eradicating poverty and inequality, health, education, sustainable cities, climate change, biodiversity and oceans.

Jean-Marc Gambaudo presented the topic of the day by pointing out that the Sustainable Development Goals are a challenge for science because of their systemic nature and the importance of the societal issues they address. This observation was repeated by Philippe Charvis, and Frédéric Menard of the IRD, respectively Director of the DISCO (Internal Dynamics and Surface of Continents) department and Director of the OCEANS department.

For Philippe Charvis, the 2015 SDGs are ambitious, comprehensive and legitimate because they are supported by all UN member countries. But he notes that no priorities have been defined among these objectives, nor binding mechanisms, nor solutions to achieve them. "Science is essential to society's progress toward the achievement of these objectives. However they are not independent from each other, but often work in synergy and sometimes in contradiction. Science can undoubtedly present solutions and innovations to face these global changes," added the researcher.

Frédéric Menard illustrated these remarks by presenting SDG 14, in which he is involved, on the good health and use of oceans. A rapid inventory shows that coastal waters are continually deteriorating because of pollution, and that ocean acidification has a confrontational effect on ecosystems and biodiversity. This also has a negative impact on small-scale fisheries.

This SDG is closely linked with other SDGs, either in a positive or negative way. Science clearly has a role to play in improving our understanding of these interactions and shedding light on the major questions: how to find a globalized approach to the management of marine ecosystems and reconcile the exploitation and preservation of marine resources; how to strike a balance between human well-being and healthy oceans, and ensure the sustainability of all the services that oceans offer to human society, and not only of the food they provide.

Representatives of international organizations involved in sustainable development also spoke during the morning sessions: Maria Uhle, co-chair of the Belmont Forum, an international association of research funding agencies, Patrick Gilabert of UNIDO and Karl Falkenberg, European Commission Advisor. The speakers emphasized the importance of research as a foundation for public policies in sustainable development, whether at the local, national, European or international level.

The afternoon workshops focused on different themes: 1) health, food, agriculture and biodiversity; 2) energy, sustainable cities, sustainable production and consumption, climate change; 3) justice, 4) oceans. A second series of workshops gave participants the opportunity to discuss cross-disciplinary topics in sustainable development: observation systems, economy, management and business. During these workshops, the researchers from Université of Côte d'Azur discussed how their research programs can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and how to better promote their work throughout the international community.