UNU Action Debate: Global Challenges Prize 2017


  • 2017•03•20     Maastricht

    The United Nations wants to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. But, as many of us are acutely aware, the SDGs are not only ambitious but also complicated. A kaleidoscope of grand visions, the 2030 Agenda aims to rebuild our world from the ground up, in a work plan covering everything from the environment to education to peace and security. And linked to the 17 goals, there are 169 targets and 230 indicators.

    Today’s risks are so dangerous and so global in their nature that they’ve outrun the international system’s ability to deal with them,” says Laszlo Szombatfalvy, founder of the Global Challenges Foundation (GCF). “We’re trying to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s tools. We believe a new shape of collaboration is needed to address the most critical challenges in our globalised world.” This — along with a $5 million prize competition — formed the backdrop to the UNU Action Debate on 6 March 2017.

    The panellists included two European directors, an award-winning researcher from Senegal, a master’s student with Turkish roots, and a moderator from Bolivia. They were joined by a Swedish professor, who serves on the GCF board.

    The speakers agreed on one thing from the outset: that the UN must put human security first while pursuing the 2030 Agenda. They also made two broad streams of recommendations: one internal to the UN, the other external.

    Internally, the panellists said that the UN needs to be leaner, less bureaucratic, and more people-focused. On the external side, they stressed the importance of working with civil society, youth, and the private sector.

    This UNU Action Debate provided a candid background to the GCF Prize 2017, which is open for submissions from 1 April to 30 September 2017.

    For more information, see the news story on the UNU-MERIT website.