Words of Welcome
A physically distant, yet warm personal welcome to the 2020 International SDG Research Symposium ‘GLOBALGOALS2020’! It is our great pleasure to host this first research conference on the steering effects of the Sustainable Development Goals, and we thank you all for taking up this exciting and important challenge with us!
The GLOBALGOALS2020 Research Symposium promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience in many ways. It is the first attempt to gather the community of researchers and experts who study the Sustainable Development Goals as the premier and most comprehensive example of ‘governance through goals’. Over three exciting days, you will be able to engage in inspiring panel discussions all related to the transformative potential of the Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on five key areas: the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals at multiple levels, including the factors that may explain progress as well as barriers; the many interlinkages among and integration of Sustainable Development Goals; the quest for the global and local inclusiveness of programmes and policies to implement the Sustainable Development Goals; the crucial ecological integrity of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at planetary level; and the assessment of all existing knowledge on assessment indicators and methods.
The GLOBALGOALS2020 Research Symposium, which we had planned over a year as a physical event in beautiful historic locations in Utrecht, has now at rather short notice been transformed into a fully virtual conference, with online participation of colleagues from all over the world in real time. In only three months,
in times of intense professional and personal pressures, our dedicated and diligent conference team – in particular our student assistants – have done a tremendous job in preparing the virtual symposium and mastering the often novel challenges linked to an online format. There is no doubt: such a completely virtual conference will be different. We will miss the close contact, the informal interactions, the easy way of sharing knowledge and making friends, and the splendid environment of our historic buildings that date back more than five hundred years.
And yet, we are also excited by this prospect and unexpected opportunity to pioneer a totally new way of academic cooperation, global collaboration, and virtual networking, without any carbon dioxide emissions and, after all, at a much lower cost for us as organisers and you as participants. Importantly, this new format of virtual conferences will make our conference much more inclusive especially with a view to colleagues from the Global South, who will be stronger represented. In addition, many of our discussions will be accessible to all Internet users all over the world at any time, again expanding the global dissemination of knowledge and enhancing the full democratisation of science.
We hope this Symposium will set the first milestone in building a strong research community for studying the newly important mode of ‘governing by global goals’ and the SDGs. We look forward to working with you all in the years to come.
On behalf of our entire team and all co-hosting organizations and partners, we wish you an inspiring and productive Symposium!
Frank Biermann, Thomas Hickmann, and Carole-Anne Sénit
Co-Chairs of GLOBALGOALS2020, the International SDG Research Symposium