GYA members and young scientists around the globe propose cross-disciplinary solutions in a Conference Statement published following the recent virtual conference “Heal the Earth: Sustainable Development Goals in a Changing World”.

With this Conference Statement, the GYA emphasises the need for continued global collaboration, and calls upon academics, businesses, foundations, governments, multilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to take meaningful and transformative steps to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), as outlined in the 2019 UN Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR). Further detailed recommendations contained in the Statement, gathered from the perspectives of early-career researchers on six continents, touch upon cross-cutting solutions to issues of global health and higher education in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, diminishing biodiversity and natural resources, and trust in science.

Four key recommendations can be identified:

  1. Enable and strengthen resource sharing. Through Open Science, science diplomacy and global research cooperation, science can contribute to evidence-based solutions reaching more people in the world. The GYA encourages early-career researchers to familiarise themselves and interact with their local science-policy interface, as well as with international agreements and global scientific assessments which already provide an evidence base for joint and coordinated action: e.g., the UN GSDR , reports by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  2. Communicate science to engage, educate and inspire. Scientists themselves can each contribute to increased awareness and trust in science, and at the same time, policymakers and science organisations are called upon to increase science literacy through education and to support science journalism. Awareness and trust in evidence are needed to drive collaborative, evidence-based solutions to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing loss of biodiversity worldwide.
  3. Treat public health and environment as cross-cutting issues. Implement multi-sectoral approaches, such as the WHO “One Health” approach, at local, national, regional and global levels. Sustainable development policy and technologies need to be based on a paradigm of co-viability between humans, the environment and economic development. To combat the current pandemic, and to encourage innovation to reach all UN SDGs, continued and strengthened investment in research is critical.
  4. In Higher Education, use the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity for innovation and inclusion. Around the world, many universities have moved online, creating challenges and opportunities for researchers, teachers and students alike. The GYA calls on Higher Education Institutions to embrace innovative solutions, while considering obstacles to digital learning, in order to ensure inclusion of all students and staff.

Download the Conference Statement here (PDF).