Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth Day


The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on Earth Day held a webinar on Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day.

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970 by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

The theme of the webinar ‘Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day’ was chosen by the SDSN. According to the World Happiness Report, happiness is a better measure of a nation’s progress than GDP and using social well-being as a goal drives better public policy.

The webinar was split into 6 sessions, and participants discussed how to engage with experts and community leaders on how various sustainable development initiatives across the globe are creating a more just and thriving society and how happiness is still alive amidst a global pandemic.


During the 5th session, participants discussed how Education for Sustainable Development(ESD) relates to happiness, discussed the importance of ESD in the context of COVID-19, and the future of ESD. 

Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of the Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO, said that ESD empowers learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability in a just society for present and future generations. Also, education is a key enabler to prepare this generation and the next to create a sustainable and happier world for all.

Meeting: Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day

Date/Location: April 22th, 2020; 09:00-11:00; Webinar

Speakers: Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network         

Florencia Librizzi, SDG Academy  (Moderator)

Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of the Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO 

Ms. Monika Froehler, CEO of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens

Dr. Oren Pizmony-Levy, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education & Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures, Teachers College, Columbia University

Written By: WIT Representative Sehee OH

HLPF: A Review of SDG 13

The meeting entitled “Review of SDG implementation and interrelations among goals: Discussion on SDG 13 – Climate action including the link to the Climate Action Summit and six action portfolios,” was convened this morning under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council’s High Level Political Forum. The purpose of the gathering was to review progress towards SDG 13, and to demonstrate the inter-linkages between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The structure of the meeting consisted of remarks by four resource persons, and five lead discussants, with intermittent comments from member states and other stakeholders.  

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IPEN Global Policy Briefing: The 2019 Basel Convention Outcomes on Plastics (webinar)

20190626 plastic waste

(Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/pollution-plastic-plastic-waste-4110882/)

In May 2019, 187 countries—excluding the United States—agreed on further action based on the Norwegian-initiated Basel Convention, aiming to bring plastic waste under scrutiny and control. Despite supported worldwide, the convention might still be subject to certain limits since the single largest plastic waste producer, the US, refused to be a part of it and the grand but vague wordings in the convention did not specify concrete actions. IPEN, an NGO aspiring to eliminate all persistent organic pollutants, co-organized the webinar with BAN to review the policies outlined in the convention and point out potential impact opportunities for NGOs across the world.

The Basel Convention includes both soft and hard laws, the former indicating non-binding obligations and the latter implying strict restrictions. The hard law prohibited the export or import of hazardous waste among non-party countries, with a huge exception of OECD members. This would allow the US to export its toxic waste to weaker economies such as Mexico and Turkey. Speakers further drew a comparison between the Stockholm Convention and the Basel Convention, which highlighted a lack of amendments to the categorization of plastic waste.

For NGOs to take actions to better curtail plastic waste, suggestions were made as to where efforts could be more influential. On the export end, firstly, endeavors should center on reviewing “clean” plastic, tracking sources, and pushing through national policies on banning such waste. On the action side, NGOs should raise public awareness among producers, consumers, and decision makers while promoting the monitoring of toxic production and recycling. Lastly, the cruciality of collective actions call for NGOs to forge strong partnerships with the business sector for better cooperation.

Meeting: IPEN Global Policy Briefing: The 2019 Basel Convention Outcomes on Plastics (webinar)

Date/Location: Wednesday, June 26th, 2019; 1:00-2:00


Mr. Joe DiGangi, senior adviser, International POPs Elimination Framework (IPEN)

Mr. Jim Puckett, founder and director, Basel Action Network (BAN)

Written By: WIT Representative Yung-Hsuan Wu

Towards SDG 14.1 – Addressing Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear at Scale

Entitled “Towards SDG 14.1 – Addressing Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear at Scale,” a webinar was organized by the Global Ghost Gear Initiatives (GGGI) to deliver information regarding the ongoing battle against the degrading impact of deserted fishing gear on the world’s oceans. It featured presentations from Mr. Andreas Merkl from UNCOA on Marine Pollution, Mr. Pingguo He from FAO, and Mr. Ben Kneppers from Bureo, who introduced their work regarding the issue of Abandoned, Lost, and Discarded Fishing Gears (ALDFG).

The problem of oceanic pollution is becoming ever more pressing, necessitating the efforts and enhanced participation of international actors to formulate a consequential resolution. To begin the webinar, Ms. Ingrid Giskes explained how the GGGI, founded in 2014, contributes to the global environmental project by specifically targeting the elimination of harmful fishing materials known as “ghost gear.” Its innovative approach is divided among the Build Evidence, Define Best Practice and Inform Policy, and Catalyze and Replicate Solutions Working Groups.

Citing the first part Sustainable Development Goals 14 (SDG 14.1), to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, Mr. Pingguo He of the FAO identified issues of marine debris, ALDFG, and ghostfishing as prominent challenges of promoting the UN agenda. Efforts to require the marking of fishing gear to improve its traceability through the 2018 “FAO Voluntary Guidelines” were discussed, as Mr. He expounded how its implementation would facilitate states’ cooperation on the issue of ALDFG as well as illegal fishing and malpractice issues.

Two pilot projects concerning the marking of fishing gear have been carried out by FAO. The first one constituted of marking gear in a small-scale Indonesian gillnet fishery. It was part of a more holistic management approach, which included educational outreach and provided incentives for small-scale fishers to retrieve lost gear. Moreover, the organization encouraged regional harmonization through collecting stakeholders’ opinion on fish aggregating devices and promoting the advantages of these devices, such as the use of biodegradable materials.

In addition to the marking of abandoned fishing gears, Mr. Ben Kneppers from Bureo introduced his company’s model to eliminate fishing net pollution. Partnering with fisheries and local communities, in 2013, Bureo established a free program in Chile to collect and recycle abandoning fishing nets into premium products such as raw materials. This approach not only provides a solution for end-of-use fishing gear but also benefits local communities with employment opportunity and funding. Expansion of operations through the creation of the Net Positiva Program has increased this model’s reach and contribution to the solution of ALDFG.

In conclusion, the innovative and bold endeavors of organizations such as the GGGI, FAO, and Bureo are critical to fight oceanic deterioration. Hearing from the session’s featured speakers was an uplifting and motivating experience for all participants of the webinar.

Meeting: Towards SDG 14.1 – Addressing Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear at Scale

Date/Location: Tuesday, June 18th, 2019; 13:00-14:00; Online Webinar


Ms. Keondra Bills Freemyn, International Government Relations Manager, Ocean Conservancy;

Ms. Ingrid Giskes, Acting Director of Global Ghost Gear Initiatives;

Mr. Andreas Merkl, Co-Focal Point of the UNCOA on Marine Pollution;

Mr. Pingguo He, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO);

Mr. Ben Kneppers, Co-Founder of Bureo

Written By: WIT Summer Interns 2019