Lockdown pivot makes SDG summit more accessible

2021 Aotearoa Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit organisers have taken the event online and offered free access, in one of many pivots happening around the country during the current Covid-19 lockdown.

The two-day face-to-face event at the University of Canterbury has been transformed into a virtual summit on 2 September, with the first allocation of 500 tickets snapped up in a few days.

Organisers say the need to pivot to online was not unexpected, and that responding to sudden developments will become more and more necessary as the world learns to adapt to sustainability-related challenges.

“The summit team is working with the principle of being agile and responsive, which is the reality of moving into an uncertain future driven by the effects of climate change,” Dr Matt Morris, Sustainability Advisor at University of Canterbury, says.

“This global disruption, which we are already seeing happening in the world, is just what the 17 SDGs are designed to mitigate.”

The summit theme of Collaboration for Systemic Change focuses on sharing knowledge and working together to develop plans for local, regional or national action around specific SDGs. The 17 SDGs together form the United Nation’s global roadmap to greater equity and sustainability by 2030.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will deliver the opening address of the summit. The Office of the Auditor General will also report on the Government’s preparedness to achieve the SDGs.

Participants can choose from 12 interactive online workshops exploring collaborative action-planning, over two sessions, and attend breakout sector-based kōrero, networking and short project showcases.

The SDG Declaration for Aotearoa will be co-created during the summit, with participants contributing to the declaration and signing up to affirm their commitment to creating positive change.

Another exciting development already taking shape is the proposed national SDG Alliance. Led by Hui E! Community Aotearoa as part of the Aotearoa SDG Summit series, the alliance would connect organisations working to achieve the SDGs and give them a collective voice.  

Academics, businesses, community development organisations and sustainability advocacy groups will converge at the summit to learn, share and commit to action. Organisers hope to reschedule other features of the original summit including field trips and a community feast that can’t be delivered online.

“We would expect further events, connections and actions to emerge from the summit kōrero and the workshop session’s action plans,” Dr Morris says. “These could ideally be captured and shared in the Aotearoa SDG Declaration and then carried forward through the national SDG Alliance, which is in its early stages but holds enormous potential for rallying and supporting individuals and groups in Aotearoa to take action on the SDGs.”

The University of Canterbury is co-hosting the Aotearoa SDG Summit series with Lincoln University and mana whenua Ngāi Tūāhuriri, partnering with the Christchurch City Council and Ara Institute of Canterbury, supported by Tourism New Zealand, Te Pokai Tara | Universities New Zealand, ChristchurchNZ, and New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.

To join the waitlist for tickets visit the 2021 Aotearoa New Zealand SDG Virtual Summit: Collaboration for Systemic Change website.

The sessions will made available after the event, on the Aotearoa NZ SDG Summit Series You Tube channel here.

Climate Change Panel

SDG Summit tickets include the Research Challenges in Meeting Future Climate Change Emissions Targets panel on Friday 3 September, 3pm – 5pm, with Climate Change Commission Chair Dr Rod Carr; Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Canterbury and IPCC core writing team member for AR6 Bronwyn Hayward MNZM; General Manager Transformation at Ngāi Tahu Holdings Dean Fraser; and Professor of Geography at the University of Canterbury Simon Kingham. 

Register separately for the Climate Change panel here.

SDG series hui resources

The Aotearoa SDG summit series has already created valuable resources with a host of sessions from three online hui held since September 2020 captured on video. Sessions from Hui 1# – See the Change, Hui 2# – Be the Change and Hui 3# – Working together for change are available on the Aotearoa NZ SDG Summit Series You Tube channel here.