Health » Overview

Salzburg Global Seminar has long been a leading forum for the exchange of ideas on issues in health and health care affecting countries throughout the world. At these meetings agendas have been re-set affecting policy and practice in crucial areas, such as patient safety and the engagement of patients in medical decision making. In 2010, Salzburg Global Seminar launched a multi-year series of seminars to crystallize new approaches to global health and health care in the face of emerging challenges affecting us now and set to continue on through the coming generation.


Interviews and coverage from our Health programs

Research Communication Takeaways from Interdisciplinary Research for the SDGs
Research Communication Takeaways from Interdisciplinary Research for the SDGs
Sajid Chowdhury 
This op-ed was written by Sajid Chowdhury, director at Big Blue Communications. Chowdhury attended the Salzburg Global Seminar session, Climate Change, Conflict, Health and Education: Targeting Interdisciplinary Research to Meet the SDGs. In March, I joined a brilliant three-day seminar of 60+ researchers, funders and policymakers brought together to highlight opportunities and challenges of interdisciplinary research in meeting Sustainable Development Goals.The session was convened by Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with the UK Global Challenges Research Fund and with UK Research and Innovation. Salzburg Global has held 500+ similar events since post-World War II, bringing people together to address complex challenges and build networks.Interdisciplinary research is what it sounds like. It brings together minds from diverse fields, attempts to break siloed thinking, and tackles research challenges from varied viewpoints. It also has challenges. According to journal Nature in 2015: ‘Research that transcends conventional academic boundaries is harder to fund, do, review and publish — and those who attempt it struggle for recognition and advancement.’ This sentiment was echoed through the seminar.Through interactive exercises and discussions, we mapped interlinkages and tensions between the SDGs that relate to four sectors of climate change, conflict, health, and education. We also discussed strategies for communicating complexity and shaping policy to help countries meet those SDGs. Finally, we jointly offered recommendations to research funders, policymakers, and practitioners for future research. Day 3 Panel: ‘Communication for the Infobesity Era’ On Day 3, our four-person panel discussed research communication in an era of information overload. How can communicators compete for audiences’ attention? How can research teams ensure that their engagement with audiences is meaningful, relevant, and current? Where do concepts such as social media, mobile phones, fake news, and increasingly aggravated perceptions of 'experts' fit in? My take: More than ever, research findings must compete with a whole lot of other messaging. That means research communication should be targeted, with the fat trimmed off so that a journalist or politician or citizen can understand the important bits right away.By nature, research findings can be complex, and complexity takes time to clarify. Assuming that audiences such as citizens and government representatives and politicians may not have much time, then it makes sense for research teams to ensure their messages are clear, compact, and punchy. Research findings will often need to exist in different formats, whether as news, a series of memorable events, communication campaign, or visual experience featuring stories that audiences can connect with. This can be a new, but exciting, world for research teams that may be more accustomed to [the] production of written content for academic publications.For research teams that want to rise above the noise, there is incredible value in finding great communicators. Just as there are people who love conducting cutting-edge research, equally, there are people who love to communicate it. A great starting point, then, is for research teams to align with people who know and love research communication. Yes, information overload is real, but there are also tremendous storytelling opportunities for research teams that take the plunge into the world of faster, visual, online communication. Four Key Research Communication Takeaways from Salzburg Not everyone sees science and research in the same way. In general, researchers see empirical knowledge, science, and expertise as necessary, but they are not the ‘be all, end all’ to influence behavior and lead to positive change. Some audiences may just value science and research differently or may see research as vulnerable to politics, corruption, and falsification.Dialogue, not dissemination. Researchers can tend to see ‘communication’ as one-way, and indeed, this is reflected even right down to project terms of reference, when research teams are asked by donor teams to produce a ‘dissemination’ strategy that assumes that production will lead to uptake. But at Salzburg, we repeatedly returned to the idea that localized, contextualized dialogue and conversation can be more effective creators of change.Communication throughout the research process. Communication and conversation around research needs to start before the research, not as an add-on at the end.Involve communicators, and craft your research messages. We talk about the gap between research and policymakers, but this overlooks communities and citizens. For well-thought communication, researchers need to consider message, language, and medium. The session, Climate Change, Conflict, Health and Education: Targeting Interdisciplinary Research to Meet the SDGs, was held in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). More information on the session can be found here.To join in the discussions online, follow the hashtag #SGSsdgs on Twitter.
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Interlinking Challenges, Interdisciplinary Solutions
Interlinking Challenges, Interdisciplinary Solutions
Salzburg Global Seminar 
The 17 global goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are nothing short of ambitious. Building on from the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to “transform our world,” calling for action in both developed and developing countries. While the broad goals each have specific targets, no one goal can be achieved in isolation. Efforts to achieve one goal will help to advance another—and failures to address some will lead to negative impacts on others.  Quality education (SDG 4) greatly improves health and wellbeing (SDG 3), which in turn can increase prosperity, but increased consumption that often comes with that can hinder local and global efforts to tackle climate change (SDG 13). Similarly, reducing conflict (SDG 16) may have benefits for employment and economic growth, but these cannot be sustained unless inequalities in education and access to health care are also addressed. Without holistic action for equality and social justice, peace may be short-lived or conflict may continue by other means. Achieving the targets set out in any of the SDGs thus calls for an interdisciplinary and cross-sector approach.  Recognizing the significant challenge that comes in adopting such an approach, Salzburg Global Seminar is convening the session, Climate Change, Conflict, Health, and Education: Targeting Interdisciplinary Research to Meet the SDGs, at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria, starting this Sunday, March 18. The intensive three-day session will bring together 65 researchers, policymakers and development experts to explore how research can be more effectively translated into policy and practice in order to identify the interlinkages—and tensions—between the SDGs, and how top research funders can help lead the way. One such leading research funder is session partner, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which is a £1.5bn fund established by the British government to help UK researchers work in partnership with researchers in developing countries to make significant progress in meeting the SDGs. Representing the GCRF at the session is UK Research and Innovation, a newly created body that brings together the seven UK research councils, Innovate UK and Research England. Professor Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and UK Research and Innovation Champion for the Global Challenges Research Fund, said: “We're delighted to partner with Salzburg Global Seminar to explore the ways excellent research of the kind being undertaken through the Global Challenges Research Fund can help to tackle the most stubborn development challenges across and between the Sustainable Development Goals.”  The session will enable discussion and exploration that span research, policy and practice. This will be achieved through a series of panel discussions and hands-on exercises that will examine the opportunities, challenges, and trade-offs involved in developing interdisciplinary approaches to the implementation of the SDGs related to climate change, conflict, health, and education. The session will also look to identify current research gaps and look at how to communicate the complexity of interdisciplinary research in order to shape evidence-based policy and practice.  Through its programs, Salzburg Global Seminar seeks to bridge divides, expand collaborations and transform systems. In order to take the work of this session beyond Schloss Leopoldskron and advocate for change in their own sectors, participants will co-create a Salzburg Statement. The Statement will offer key recommendations for various stakeholders and serve as a call to action to help participants personally as well as their institutions and communities. “Finding solutions to long-standing, seemingly intractable problems and the specific challenges that the SDGs look to mitigate against requires new ways of thinking and new approaches,” says Salzburg Global Program Director Dominic Regester.  “We are delighted that so many experts across different sectors and geographies have given willingly of their time to come to Salzburg. We very much hope that the Statement that will be collectively authored during and after the session will help advance understanding of and opportunities for interdisciplinary research.” The session, Climate Change, Conflict, Health, and Education: Targeting Interdisciplinary Research to Meet the SDGs, is being held in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). More information is available online: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/605 To join in the discussions online, follow the hashtag #SGSsdgs on Twitter
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Parks for the Planet - Nature and Childhood - From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change
Parks for the Planet - Nature and Childhood - From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change
Carly Sikina 
Exposure to nature can be seen as a crucial aspect of healthy childhood development. Access to nature and green spaces, however, has become an issue of social justice and inequality. Many studies have shown the positive outcomes that have been realized as a result of nature and outdoor play. Spending time outdoors can increase children’s learning outcomes, improve their health and wellbeing and help develop their social and emotional skills. Although the return on such investments is higher if begun in early childhood, many government officials around the world continue to prioritize corrective policies for older children rather than invest in ongoing early years’ initiatives. This topic will be examined in greater detail at Salzburg Global Seminar’s next session, Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change, which takes place at Schloss Leopoldskron, from March 6 to 10, 2018. This session is being supported by the Children & Nature Network, the National League of Cities (NLC), and Outdoor Classroom Day. This is the fourth session of Parks for the Planet Forum, a multi-year series created by Salzburg Global in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Forum advances action, investment and leadership to implement the Promise of Sydney and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the session, a group of thought-leaders, change-makers and policymakers from different disciplines, sectors and regions will come together to examine the challenges and opportunities of nature and childhood development.  This session builds on recommendations from the 2017 meeting of the Forum, The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play. It explores ways to make the city into a natural outdoor classroom, involve children in designing and planning green spaces, increase children’s curiosity and care for nature, and establish cross-sectoral partnerships to promote an inclusive culture of health in cities. Some of the questions that will be explored during the session include: what do successful child-centered urban policies look like around the world? How can the private sector and urban developers be effectively engaged in this agenda? How can nature and nature learning be better integrated into time spent in pre-school and school? What works to build and sustain genuine multi-stakeholder engagement? How can we better communicate to policymakers the case for investing in comprehensive strategies for children, nature and play? This session will combine presentations, cross-sectoral conversations, panel discussions, and focus group work. It uses theory, policy, and practice to explore new perspectives and ways to collaborate to evoke sustainable and social progress. In a first for Salzburg Global Seminar, members of the public and Salzburg Global Fellows all over the world will be able to directly take part in a portion of the session as a Panel discussion on policies that promote nature access for urban children to be broadcast on Facebook Live on Thursday, March 8. Participants will develop a “Salzburg Statement” recommending policies and practices to help governments, business and community stakeholders to enable children around the world to grow up with nature and outdoor play. The 2018 Salzburg Statement will build on that co-written by Fellows at the 2017 session, the Salzburg Statement on The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play. Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change is the fourth session of the multi-year series, Parks for the Planet Forum. The Forum is hosted with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in partnership with the Children and Nature Network, the National League of Cities (NLC) and Outdoor Classroom Day. More information on the session can be found here. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #SGSparks. 
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A Message from Our Vice President and Chief Program Officer
A Message from Our Vice President and Chief Program Officer
Clare Shine 
As 2018 gets underway, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your continued engagement with Salzburg Global Seminar. In reflection of a landmark year celebrating Salzburg Global Seminar’s 70th anniversary, I wanted to look back on the journey traveled, new projects and horizons. Our 2017 theme of “Courage” resonated throughout this turbulent year. The 1947 vision of Salzburg Global’s founders – a “Marshall Plan of the Mind” to revive dialogue and heal rifts across Europe - felt fresh as ever. Cracks widened in societies and institutions across the world, compounded by a mix of insecurity, disillusionment, and isolationism. Yet the world should be in a better position than ever to tackle common challenges. There is an open marketplace for ideas, innovation, and invention, and opportunities to engage and collaborate are growing fast. In Salzburg, we are privileged to meet individuals from all walks of life who have the courage to tell truth to power, confront vested interests, express artistic voice and freedom, build coalitions for change, and see through tough choices. In divided societies, people need courage to stay true to their beliefs. Leaders need courage to curb their exercise of power. Together, we need courage to rekindle our collective imagination to rebuild society from the bottom up and the top down.Three strategies guide our own work for this purpose.1. Given Salzburg Global’s roots in conflict transformation, our programs seek to bridge divides: Our American Studies series – a discipline born at Schloss Leopoldskron – focused on Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration, including the roots of economic and racial division;The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change had its highest-ever participation on Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism and published an interactive playbook “Against Populism”;Our Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention series is now applying tools developed in previous years to promote pluralism and tolerance and address issues of radicalization and violent extremism. Pilot projects to test these approaches are under way in five countries (Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt) with the potential to expand to other countries;The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum marked its fifth anniversary with a major report assessing the influence and personal impact of a cross-sector network that now spans more than 70 countries and has inspired new partnerships and cultural initiatives. 2. Salzburg Global Seminar aims to inspire new thinking and action on critical issues to transform systems, connecting local innovators and global resources: Our high-level leadership programs address fundamental components of dynamic and inclusive societies. We now have three annual series - Forum on Finance in a Changing World, Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum, and the Public Sector Strategy Network – and have begun a new collaboration with major foundations on Talent Management for Effective Global Philanthropy. We have expanded our work on Health and Health Care Innovation with ambitious initiatives, including the five-year Sciana Health Leaders Network which marks a groundbreaking crossborder partnership with The Health Foundation (UK), Bosch Stiftung (Germany) and Careum Stiftung (Switzerland), and a major partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation aimed at building a shared culture of health.Education for Tomorrow’s World is going global! As an outcome of our 2015 and 2016 work on innovation for social and emotional learning, we are convening meetings over 15 months in Latin America, the Middle East and Gulf, and North America. These will inform a synthesis session in Salzburg in December 2018 to frame lessons learned for decision-makers in the education sector and other key stakeholders. 3. Salzburg Global seeks to expand collaboration by fostering lasting networks and partnerships: The Young Cultural Innovators Forum, created in 2014, now has 18 city/country hubs across the world, and held its first US inter-city meeting in Detroit;We’re expanding alliances in Asia with long-standing and new partners. The Asia We Want: Building Community through Regional Cooperation is laying foundations for a bottom-up innovation network for A Clean and Green Asia. November saw our first-ever program with the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and the Hong Kong Jockey Club on Leadership for Inclusive Futures in Hong Kong, focused on 30 rising leaders across the public, private and civil society sectors.The Salzburg Statement on The Child in the City: Health Parks and Play (Parks for the Planet Forum) was showcased at the World Congress on Public Health in Australia and will feature in webinars for US city leaders, working with the National League of Cities and the Children in Nature Network. After six years living in Schloss Leopoldskron and meeting the most diverse and talented people imaginable, I often hear myself describe Salzburg Global Seminar as “deeply human.” 2017 brought many reminders of the special bonds forged during our lifetime and the enduring need to advance trust and openness around the key issues facing today’s world.  Thank you again for your commitment and recognition of Salzburg Global’s importance in your professional and personal development. We hope you will consider joining other Fellows who have already made a donation to Salzburg Global this year. Please click here to learn more. With very best wishes from everyone at Salzburg Global Seminar, and we hope to welcome you back to Schloss Leopoldskron in the near future.
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Anna Matheson - Reflections From a Palace in Salzburg
Anna Matheson - Reflections From a Palace in Salzburg
Anna Matheson 
Anna Matheson was a participant of the Salzburg Global session, Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals, which took place in December 2017. This article was first published by Massey University. The original article can be accessed here. Who would have thought there is an organization whose main activity is facilitating pop-up think tanks to challenge current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern? Well, the Salzburg Global Seminar does just that.The organization runs sessions with invited guests on globally relevant, diverse topics in their glorious home, the Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria, which also happens to be the where The Sound of Music was filmed. As an aside, although the movie was filmed on the magnificent grounds of the Schloss, the inside was not filmed as a session was underway at the time – and it was considered extremely important the fellows were not disturbed in their ruminating. Founded in 1947 by three Harvard students, the Salzburg Global Seminar was intended to be an international forum for those seeking a better future for Europe and the world following World War II. As the organization’s website states: “The founders believed that former enemies could talk and learn from each other, even as countries reeled from the ravages of war. Looking beyond Europe’s immediate needs for physical reconstruction and economic development, they argued for a 'Marshall Plan of the Mind' as a critical element of recovery.” Bringing countries together to talk, who had long been at war, was meant to be facilitated by the beautiful and calm setting of the Schloss Leopoldskron.I arrived at the Schloss, surrounded by snowy mountains and at the edge of the icy lake, the Leopoldskroner Weiher, to participate in Session 592, Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals. I was invited to attend because of my research and thinking on health inequalities and complexity in social systems. Most of the other 59 fellows were leaders from health and community organizations from around the world. The largest representation was from the United States of America as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (the biggest public health philanthropy organization in the US and funder of the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health) was a partner in the session. Schloss Leopoldskron on the edge of an icy Leopoldskroner Weiher (Picture: Anna Matheson) Throwing About Ideas The four and a half days of the meeting were full of talking, presenting, sharing, planning and eating in majestic, history-laden rooms. A photographer was continually capturing the discussions; a graphic artist depicted the days’ ideas and each morning on our desks was a four-page newsletter with photos and stories of the previous day's ponderings. Not insignificant was the Bierstube – the basement bar in the Schloss where conversations continued – as well as table tennis, foosball, karaoke and dancing. Another aside I need to mention was the “dance-off” that spontaneously happened among the men on at least two of the nights – though I would be remiss if I suggested there was a clear winner among the Colombians, the Scottish or the Rwandans.When we weren’t hanging out in an Austrian basement, we were self-organizing into working groups to come up with tangible plans for action around the main themes that were emerging from the meeting. Dr Anna Matheson participating at Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals (Picture: Salzburg Global Seminar/Katrin Kerschbaumer) An Extraordinary Experience The connecting thread was the imperative to be “people-centered”, even when considering big system challenges. One of the working groups began developing a framework for systems change to create more sustainable health systems; many at the session were frustrated by their inability to sustain health system changes and the often unseen barriers to change that existed. Another group aimed to build a business case for why urgent attention should be given to understanding the intersection between individual, community and planetary health. A third group developed plans to create a global toolkit to help hospitals improve their capacity to contribute to building healthier communities. A fourth group mapped out a strategy for how to take “innovation to scale” in order to impact significant public health challenges. Another focused on the role of clinicians and how services could be developed to assist them to reach further into the community. A sixth group explored how global attention might be moved away from prioritizing big data and more towards people-centered intelligence. While the last working group planned a collection of articles to be written for the British Medical Journal to showcase the session themes and experiences of those attending.Participating in Session 592 of the Salzburg Global Seminar was extraordinary. Aside from the surreal setting and scintillating company, particularly heartening for me, was hearing all the passionate discussions that normalized talk of complex systems and the need for systems change in relation to health and equity. The tide is really turning. Fragmented, linear thinking and actions that disregard the wider systems within which they are nested is falling out of favor. A deep and considered understanding of social complexity is shifting away from being on the fringe as it becomes clearer that different thinking, and different methods and actions, are necessary if the complex global, and local, challenges that we face are to have any chance of being addressed. Impacting the rising prevalence of chronic health conditions in our communities and reducing health inequalities are just two of these challenges that require systems change in order for progress to be made. I am looking forward to the on-going work, and new relationships formed from Session 592 in pursuit of this progress. Dr Anna Matheson is a senior lecturer in Public Health from the School of Health Sciences and Associate Investigator, Te Pūnaha Matatini – Centre of Research Excellence for Complex Systems, Data and Networks.
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Lynna Chandra – The Way We’ve Been Taught to See Our Work is No Longer Applicable to the Way that Our Lives are Being Led
Lynna Chandra – The Way We’ve Been Taught to See Our Work is No Longer Applicable to the Way that Our Lives are Being Led
Oscar Tollast 
When details first emerged of the Salzburg Global session, Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals, Lynna Chandra, the founder of Rachel House, sensed a new opportunity. “When this topic came up,” Chandra says, “I actually wrote to John [Lotherington] and said, I think I’d like to learn from this.” Chandra, who describes herself as a problem-solver, was looking to explore why people were still unable to access care in different parts of the world. The topic of building healthier communities was brought up in the previous Salzburg Global session she attended in December 2016: Rethinking Care Toward the End of Life. This session is where Chandra began looking at the role of the health system. Despite the building of new hospitals and improvements made to health care facilities, Chandra suggests a disconnect remains. She says, “We still see the silent group of the people with chronic disease staying at home and the poor not being able to access the care.” Between 2006 and 2016, Chandra helped pioneer pediatric palliative care services in Indonesia. Rachel House has provided palliative care to more than 2,600 children and their families and training to more than 6,000 medical professionals and community members. Chandra is concerned the money spent on health care around the world isn’t being invested wisely. She says, “We continue to not give people what they need, and often give more than what people really want.” Chandra says conversations with fellow participants at Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals, have confirmed to her that more frontline staff are needed. This change would lead to more people on the ground understanding people’s needs, not only the things that can be quantified and measured but the subjective factors in each scenario. “I think Salzburg Global Seminar has so successfully put together doctors who really care, doctors who believe that there has got to be a better ear on the ground to really connect with people one on one in order for us to deliver what the sustainable development goals are, really understanding what would actually make people have better quality of life, and the social determinants of health.” During the session, Chandra took part in a panel discussion on the smart utilization of technology in health care. She questioned how to build bridges between technological experts and participants in the room who were “ready to create change, ready to disrupt the way we think, and challenge the status quo of the hospital.” Chandra believes there are blocks in the system that prevent healthier communities emerging. She highlights high profile meetings concerning environmental matters which fail to include Ministers of Health in discussions. She says, “The way we have been taught to see our work is no longer applicable to the way that our lives are being led.” In September 2016, Chandra stood down from Rachel House and switched her attention to a new project. She has dedicated the past 12 months to “really learn” and has continued to serve on the boards of Assisi Hospice, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network, and Bamboo Capital Management. Chandra doesn’t have a fixed idea as to what her next chapter will look like, but she knows “inherently and instinctively that it has to be something to do with community care, it has something to do with primary care, [and] it has something to do with bringing care closer to the people and have a better understanding of the people.” Chandra says she has “learned so much” at the session and will take away the possibility of working with several of her fellow participants in the near future. She congratulated Salzburg Global for bringing together people with great potential to create change and disrupt the status quo. When asked what inspires her to do the work she does, Chandra draws in a deep breath before replying, “I think to serve.” She adds, “It frustrates me to see that where there is so much abundance, there is so much possibility around, and yet the poorest and the people without a voice continue to be under-served, continue to go without. Fathers continue to see their children die without the ability to help them. Mothers continue to see their children suffer in pain in the final days of their lives, and yet there is no help. Even in a country where we have so much, that population continues to suffer. I think it is… I can’t believe we don’t have a solution. I’m just impatient, I guess, I don’t know." The session, Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. This year’s session is held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGShealth on Twitter and Instagram.
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Magdalena Seol - Business and Investment Can Drive a More Sustainable Asia
Magdalena Seol - Business and Investment Can Drive a More Sustainable Asia
Magdalena Seol 
Seol was a participant at The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation I - A Clean and Green Asia. All participants were invited to share their own vision for "the Asia we want." Building a sustainable economy is a critical concern not just for policymakers but also for businesses. Our generation lives in a historic time: the next decade will be an inflection point for the next hundred years. If we are to build a sustainable and inclusive society, it is necessary to invite and unleash the private sector resources, creativity, and drive into our grand mission. 90 percent of the jobs created during the 15 years of the Millennium Development Goals were created by the private sector, signaling an essential role that businesses will need to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and lifting the remaining 700 million people around the world out of extreme poverty. Accelerating sustainable economic growth requires adequate private sector finance - especially in critical public infrastructure - to preserve scarce public dollars and reach the scale as needed. Building human capital needs not only finance but innovation and management efficiency that can be drawn from the private sector. Fostering resilience to global and regional shocks also requires a robust participation of the private sector. Now, let’s look into Asia. Below is a map created by Brilliant Maps. You will see a circled area in it. Circle centered on 106.6° East, 26.6° North, projected using GMT, created by BCMM - Brilliant Maps More people live inside this circle than outside of it, with many of the world’s most populous countries located in the circle – China (first), India (second), Indonesia (fourth), Pakistan (sixth), and Bangladesh (seventh). According to the UN DESA, two-thirds of the projected population growth is happening in the high-food deficit regions of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, presenting the challenges of not only “overpopulation” but also “disparity.” The economic transformation the Asian region showed in recent decades is indeed an unprecedented one. However, persistent inequality and environmental degradation can be a threat to the “Asian Century.” Feeding and conserving Asia has now become an urgent problem. In the meantime, business cases for achieving the SDGs are expanding worldwide, and Asia may be particularly well placed to reap the collective benefits of such cases for a few reasons. Firstly, there are already sizable businesses that have value chains that involve millions of enterprises in the region. Secondly, many governments in Asia are able to shape market activity and set nation-wide goals. Thirdly, culturally, Asian societies tend to value environmental protection, social justice or education, which strongly resonate with the Global Goals. A quantitative analysis conducted by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission and others estimates that companies pursuing strategies aligned with the SDGs in the region with sustainable business models are likely to create economic opportunities worth US$5 trillion in a few key market areas – food & agriculture, energy, cities, and health – and generate 230 million new jobs in Asia by 2030. The total estimated value, US$5 trillion, is even introduced as a conservative number. Additional value can be generated from other sectors such as ICT, education, and consumer goods, which are estimated to add US$12 trillion. Pricing in environmental costs can further increase this size. And if progress is made in gender equality in the region, where women traditionally have not engaged in the economy, the analysis expects it to add another 30 percent growth in the economy of those Asian countries. The good news is that across the region, businesses are already pioneering innovative business models and applying new technologies to unlock sustainable opportunities that are in line with the SDGs. The private sector – businesses and investments – will have critical roles in our march toward achieving social and environmental sustainability. First and foremost, businesses can address the manner in which they conduct their business activities – compliance, risk management and ‘do no harm’ – across their value chains. Developing new, innovative and inclusive products, services, technologies, and ways of doing business in the market that can contribute to improving people’s lives and environmental performance is also a unique part that businesses can contribute. Scaling the new business models and shifting the pioneers to common practice will require various layers of collaboration within and outside the corporate sector such as project-level financing and implementation partners, industry-level alliances, and multi-stakeholder platforms and networks. To crowd in private capital and investment, we will need to continue developing new and creative financial products. For instance, this could include bonds recently issued by the World Bank that directly link returns to the businesses’ performance in advancing the development priorities set out in the SDGs; drawing in non-traditional sources of finance such as sovereign wealth funds and pension funds with trillions of dollars in liquidity; or “greening” the financial sector with more cases of green bonds at municipal, national, and regional levels. All of these measures may not be enough to fully tackle the multiplying pressures and mutually reinforcing challenges imposed on the region’s sustainability. This will be an on-going evolutionary process of finding, testing, and establishing innovative models and solutions. While the problems are daunting, I am optimistic that we will be able to unlock the socioeconomic potential of the private sector in collaboration with governments, multilateral institutions, nonprofits, and ultimately, with citizens. Magdalena Seol is an international expert in sustainable development and public sector innovation. She founded Global Development Advisors, a strategy advisory consultancy that solely focuses on global development and public impact problems Session 591 - The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation I - A Clean and Green Asia- is the first session of a new multi-year series held in partnership with the Japan Foundation. For more information on the Session, please click here. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session on social media, follow #SGSasia.
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