1 Oct 2018

We are all SDG17-ambassadors!

Now it's official - Mattias Goldmann, CEO of the green and liberal think tank Fores, will join the jury for the final pitch in ASAP's case competition. He is known as an inspiring speaker and sharp debater, always pushing the agenda for sustainable development. Before we present the rest of the jury, we wanted to share some of his thoughts about ASAP and the Global Goals (SDGs) with you! The quote and text are written by Mattias Goldmann. 

Mattias Goldmann, jury member in ASAP

“I am in a hurry to reap the benefits of changing into a sustainable, smart and efficient world before everyone else has already done it. With ASAP 2030, I am very excited to team up with young entrepreneurs who are as eager as I am to move full speed ahead into tomorrow’s world. I expect to be simply blown away by creative solutions to challenges most of us have barely identified yet, and to be able to update and future-proof my own think tank as a result. Game on!”

This will most likely annoy the good people that named me ambassador for SDG #7, Affordable and Clean Energy, but my favourite SDG is really the last one. Number 17, Partnership for the goals, that is where the action needs to be, and that is where I see a systematic change in approach compared to the business as usual that we need to leave behind.

At Sweden’s leading think tank, we strive to build bridges between science, policy makers, business and the civil society. This is often a job that no one will thank you for; it is still seen as suspicious when politicians and company leaders cooperate, and at universities colleagues will sneer at the professor that lowers him- or herself to the simple language of daily newspapers or television programs. Furthermore, within each sector there is often an interest in tearing down bridges rather than building them - politicians get more votes by being confrontational than by collaborating with the opposition, and at universities the fight between different faculties only seems to worsen over the years.

But we are not in this race to become popular, we are in it to win it - and this is a team building competition. In order to meet the huge challenges that lie ahead of us, new kinds of cooperation are needed. This is particularly true for the fight to combat climate change, where we see the main difference between the failure at the COP15 in “Hopenhagen” and the relative success at COP21 that gave us the Paris Agreement, was the strong involvement of business leaders. And when the Agreement withstood the Trump Test, it did so thanks to a new coalition of everything from civil society organisations to cities, regions and business leaders whom together could show the world what “The Real America” wanted, under the “We’re Still In” header.

For a small country like Sweden, the need to cooperate is even clearer; if we as a country were to reduce our emissions drastically without anyone noticing, it wouldn’t do much good for the global climate. After all, our emissions - even though sky high per person - are only 0.15% of the world’s total. Thus, the only way to make a substantial difference is to inspire others, to be the global helpdesk everyone wants to call or the permanent exhibition everyone needs to visit. This is precisely what the seven parties behind the climate act and the Swedish climate targets realized - that is why they are the toughest and most ambitious in the world; 70 percent emissions reductions 2010-2030 in the transport sector and “net zero” emissions by 2045.

Targets like this can’t be achieved in the usual Babel’s tower of policy makers; only by ensuring the buy-in and active cooperation of the society as a whole can we get there. We need businesses that say “this gives us the showroom we need for other countries around the world to find our products and services”. Civil society organisations need to reach out to their counterparts around the world and inspire them with what is happening here. Research needs to help ensure that the targets are reached in a cost-efficient manner, so that more can be done faster, and that the lessons learnt are systematized and made available for others. And the politicians themselves need to understand that while they may bicker and argue on how to reach the targets, it is precisely their agreement across the aisle and their long term commitment that gives everyone from the household to the board meeting of the global company the confidence to go ahead and be part of the solution.

If we do manage to meet the climate targets of individual countries like Sweden, of regions like the EU and of the world as a whole as set by the Paris Agreement, it will have tremendous side benefits for the other sustainable development goals that we are also struggling to meet. But getting there requires a host of new and innovative partnerships. I wish I were the ambassador for SDG #17 - but in the real world, we all must be.

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