The Sustainable Development Goals – the role of Academic Research

The United Nation General Assembly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 to focus our attention to and work with the most pressing global challenges we face. While the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed our vulnerability, it has also showed the fundamental importance of scientific knowledge and the need to use limited resources sustainably. The need for science in society has never been clearer, but also rarely so contested.

This session is focused on the question how academic research in all disciplines at universities and research institutes can be used to support the Sustainable Development Goals while at the same time maintaining curiosity driven free research, the core of a sustainable academia. With this in mind, it is important to understand not only what academia is good at but also good for and can deliver!

© Paul Wilkinson

Dr. Gail Cardew


CEO of the Linnean Society

Gail Cardew is the CEO of the Linnean Society of London and an internationally recognised expert in the connection between science and society. As Vice President of EuroScience and emeritus Professor of Science, Culture and Society at the Royal Institution, her mission is to encourage people to think more deeply about science and its place in our lives. She says: “Everyone has a role to play – scientists, policy makers, business, the media, teachers and even the public – in working out how we use science responsibly to shape our future world”.

Formerly the Royal Institution Director of Science and Education, she was responsible for the organisation’s charitable programmes, encompassing public engagement, education, policy and heritage activities. In 2014 she was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. In 2020 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science at Sussex University.

As Chair of Europe’s largest general science conference, the EuroScience Open Forum, she has played an important role in highlighting the importance of science, policy and society issues throughout Europe.

(ETH/Alessandro Della Bella)

Prof. Janet Hering

Director of Eawag (Swiss Federal Institue of Aquatic Science and Technolgy), Professor for Environmental Biogeochemistry at ETH Zurich

Janet Hering is the Director of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and Professor at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) in Zürich and Lausanne. Previously, she was on the faculties of Caltech and UCLA.  She is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.  Her research interests include knowledge exchange at the interface of science with policy and practice, trace element biogeochemistry, and water treatment for the removal of inorganic contaminants.  As Director of Eawag, she oversees a staff of over 500, including ca. 175 researchers and 100 technical staff members.  Eawag hosts over 100 doctoral students conducting their thesis research.  Research at Eawag focuses broadly on water and the water environment, encompassing the continuum from relatively unperturbed aquatic ecosystems to fully engineered water and wastewater management systems.  In addition to its research activities, Eawag’s mandate encompasses both education and expert consulting.

Prof. Göran Tomson

Professor of International Health Systems Research and member of the Health Systems and Policy research group, linked to Medical Management Centre (MMC) at the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics (LIME) at Karolinska Institutet.

Co-founder and Senior advisor Swedish Institute for Global Health Transformation SIGHT Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Specialist in pediatrics, Professor international health systems research and Councelor UN 2030 Agenda Presidents office Karolinska Institutet, Honorary Guest Professor Shandong University, China, Special interests, networking,  capacity building institutional & individual and policy dialogue for universal health coverage especially Low and Middle Income Countries. Supervised 35 PhD students, more than 200 scientific papers. Member Scientific Technical Advisory Committee Alliance Health Policy Systems Research WHO HQ,  European Advisory Committee Health Research WHO Euro. Co-founder ReAct the international network to contain antibiotic resistance and EVIPNet WHO the network for Evidence Informed Health Policies. Ongoing work includes megatrends and pandemics, building back better beyond Post Covid-19.

Prof. Christina Moberg

President of EASAC and Professor Emeritus KTH

Prof. Christina Moberg is emeritus professor of organic chemistry at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Her research interests are devoted to the development of organic synthetic methodology employing homogenous catalysis. She is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, KVA, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, IVA. She was the President of KVA 2015–2018 and from 2020 she is the President of the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, EASAC, which is an association of the National Academies of Science in the EU member states, Norway, Switzerland and the UK, working with policy advice within the fields of energy, environment and the biosciences. She is an external member of the Cyprus Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts, Honorary Doctor at Lund University, Sweden, and Honorary Professor at Tianjing University, China.

Prof. Göran Finnveden

Professor of Environmental Strategic Analysis at the Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Sciences and Engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Göran Finnveden is Professor of Environmental Strategic Analysis at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Between April 2011 and January 2011 he was Vice-President for Sustainable Development at KTH working with integration of sustainable development in education, research and collaboration. His main research interest is the use and development of life cycle assessment and other sustainability assessment tools. He also works with environmental policy, futures studies for sustainable development and integration of sustainable development in higher education institutions. Application areas include buildings, consumption, energy, ICT, transportation, urban development and waste management. His contributions include both methodology development and case studies. He has a M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from KTH, a PhD in Natural Resources Management from Stockholm University and is a Docent (Associate Professor) in Industrial Ecology.

Dr. Ibon Santiago

Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Technical University Munich

Ibon Santiago studied physics at the University of the Basque Country. He received an MSc from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in physics from the University of Oxford, where he worked in DNA nanotechnology and active matter physics. He is currently Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Technical University of Munich. His research focuses on the physics of synthetic biological systems. Ibon is a member of the Science Policy working group of EuroScience.