What happened at the SDG Forum 2023? GoodPlanet Belgium Young Reporters for the Environment Alphonse & Chiara give an overview of the day
If the bees were to face extinction, humanity's existence could be in jeopardy within a mere five years. This analogy serves as a stark reminder of the imperative need for our society to take action to ensure a healthy planet.
It is precisely this urgency that has led to the annual convening of the SDG Forum in Brussels, which has been taking place for the past five years. The most recent gathering occurred on October 19th at Flagey.
The SDG Forum: what’s in a concept?
The SDG Forum's primary objective is to foster connections among all corner stones of society. This includes not only the government and businesses but also non-governmental organizations (NGOs), political actors, and academic institutions. The aim of these gatherings is to assist society's stakeholders in addressing the pressing need for change, drawing inspiration from one another, and exchanging opinions, ideas, and actionable strategies.
The event commenced with an introduction by Zakia Khattabi, highlighting the government's commitment to advancing the SDGs. As a reminder, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action, aimed at eradicating poverty, safeguarding the planet, and ensuring peace and prosperity for all by 2030. The introduction also featured an address by Kees Klomp, a Dutch economist and proponent of the Purpose Economy theory, which seeks to transform the economy to better serve the needs of people and the planet. Following this, Timothée Parrique, a French economist and degrowth specialist, presented his vision.
After the keynotes, participants could choose to attend more than 30 workshops throughout the rest of the day. The workshops programme is multilingual (French, Dutch and English) and covers a diverse range of subjects, from political discussions like "L’alimentation sous le prisme des ODD" (Food under the SDGs lens) to economic explorations like "Sustainable or not? SDGs as an assessment tool for investors." These workshops ranged from highly interactive sessions demanding direct participation to more conventional conferences focusing on the exchange of information and ideas.
A Youth’s perspective
The SDG Forum serves as a platform for diverse ideas, encompassing both radical concepts like degrowth and more pragmatic approaches, such as investment aligned with the SDGs. The forum's strength lay in its ability to offer a wide array of solutions. As a youth reporter I personally liked the introduction made by Kees Klomp where he gave to all the participants a clear explanation of the why. How to change and how to act. For Kees Klomp, a youth today must act whatever he is doing in life for a better world. He explained the change of story, of paradigm to act. “The society has to find new bases in order to build a new world on it” And this change can begin with the SDGs that are very important tools. After that I met with other youth who were also very surprised and interested by this introduction and this idea of a new narrative.
In conclusion, the SDG Forum once again brought compelling ideas and tangible actions. Attendees, ranging from students or professionals to retirees with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, brought forward compelling ideas and tangible actions. As indicated by the organizers, interest in the SDG Forum continues to grow each year, suggesting that the event will expand in the coming years.