Global Conference on Sustainable Development 2023: Inspiring Action and Collaboration for a Sustainable Future

Created on 21 November 2023

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On October 4–5, 2023, the SDSN Hong Kong held its first “Global Conference on Sustainable Development” (GCSD 2023) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).  It brought together over 1,600 online views and more than 300 on-site participants to address pressing environmental and social challenges and forge meaningful collaborations in pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  It served as a platform for global leaders, visionaries, and experts to convene and explore innovative solutions.

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The conference featured an impressive array of speakers, including Mr Ban Ki-moon, former United Nations Secretary-General and Co-Chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens; Professor Jeffrey David Sachs, President of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network; and Professor Thomas Schneider, Chief Executive of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities.  They shared their insights and expertise on sustainable development.

In Professor Sachs‘s captivating keynote speech, he advocated for the establishment of a ‘global parliament of people’ to ensure greater collaboration across all levels.  He emphasized the importance of promoting inclusive and sustainable solutions while fostering a sense of global citizenship.  Mr Ban Ki-moon echoed this sentiment, stressing that achieving the SDGs is not just a goal, but a moral obligation and a shared responsibility.  He urged open dialogue and partnership between academia, philanthropic organizations, civil society, the private sector, and the government to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

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At the conference, plenary sessions and breakout sessions were organized to provide ample opportunities for participants to engage with each other and exchange ideas.  These sessions covered diverse topics, including sustainable development governance, building age-friendly cities, sustainable tourism, carbon neutrality, biodiversity, and education for sustainable development.  CUHK, in addition, launched the University Sustainability Index (USI) at the conference, a pioneering initiative that benchmarks sustainability performance among universities.  This initiative further reinforced CUHK’s commitment to fulfilling its civic duty as a socially responsible university and inspiring others to embrace sustainability as a fundamental principle.

In the halfway through the 2030 Agenda, the world was falling well short of the progress needed to meet the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Through the participation of global experts, this conference had served not just as a knowledge-exchange platform, but also as a catalyst for fostering innovative ideas, sharing best practices, and strengthening global collaborations.  The participants believed that combined efforts would expedite our journey towards a sustainable future.