Director of Future Africa joins global efforts to address climate change and sustainable development

Two experts affiliated with the University of Pretoria (UP) – Dr Heide Hackmann, Director at UP’s Future Africa Institute, and Dr Tolullah Oni, Extraordinary Professor and Chair at Innovation Africa@UP – have joined an international group of 14 experts co-convened by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

UN Expert Groups (EGs) are made up of experts from diverse fields and countries drawn from academia, civil society, international organisations, business, and other sectors. This Expert Group has been tasked with preparing a report that will build an evidence base to showcase how tackling the challenges of climate change and sustainable development together can lead to a positive outcome that benefits both causes and maximises impact. Synergies between the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and climate can be found across all 17 SDG goals.

The report was requested following a recommendation of the Third Global Conference on Strengthening Synergies between the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2022. Recent UN reports on SDGs and climate change pointed out that urgent rescue efforts are needed to make a course correction to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. The COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises have also slowed down or reversed decades of development progress that had been made.

The UN DESA and UNFCCC announcement was made on 15 May 2023 and established that Dr Hackmann will co-lead the Expert Group on Climate and SDG Synergies, and Dr Oni will contribute her expertise as one of the group's experts. "It is an honour to be co-leading this work, which should contribute to accelerating progress on achieving the SDGs. Synergistic action is imperative for the future. How best to advance it is the difficult question this Expert Panel now needs to advise on," Dr Hackmann said.

The initial report from this expert group will be presented in September 2023 on the margins of the UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit and the Climate Ambition Summit being convened by the UN Secretary-General in support of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This meeting will mark the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.