3 rd Worldwide Meeting of Young Academies Statement
The role of Young Academies in achieving the UN SDGs
In July 2017, more than 60 representatives from over 35 Young Academies and similar young scientist
initiatives from all over the world met in Johannesburg, South Africa. This Third Worldwide Meeting of
Young Academies focused on the question of how young academies in general, and young scientists in
particular, can contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Participants discussed the role of Young Academies in the national implementation of the SDGs, and
how science and technology can best be harnessed towards achieving the SDGs.
We concluded that Young Academies can and should play a central role in conceptualising, developing
and implementing strategies to achieve the SDGs. We urge policy-makers working on the SDGs and
Senior Academies to act on their proclamation that ‘young people are key drivers of sustainable
development’1 and to increasingly seek and include advice from Young Academies. As members of
Young Academies, we are willing and ready to contribute to achieving the SDGs and, to this end, have
identified the following areas for engagement:
Achieving the goals of sustainability and poverty reduction will require a concerted effort by all sectors
of society. Science has a crucial role in this effort and its central role must be recognised and utilised in
achieving the SDGs and in monitoring their implementation.
We believe that the members of Young Academies, whether national, regional or global, are well placed
to contribute interdisciplinary science advice to SDG implementation: they are typically not working in
disciplinary silos, but looking together at societal challenges, they embrace diversity (cultural,
disciplinary, gender, etc.) and connect scientists across borders due to their regional and global
networks. Thus, we recommend that Young Academies should take on a science advisory role at a
national, regional and global level. By becoming recognised as an independent part of their national,
regional and global policy advice systems, Young Academies and their members can play an important
role as trusted intermediaries between the research community and policy-makers and provide
research-based evidence for SDG implementation and indicators for monitoring and evaluation. This
would ensure inclusion of perspectives of young scientists at the national and global science-policy
interface and strengthen the scientific base of the SDG process.
Science Communication and Outreach
We see Young Academies as strategically well positioned to raise awareness and understanding of the
SDGs and related science issues within their nations by communicating them to civil society, policymakers, the private sector and wider public through workshops, lectures, and outreach programmes. By
engaging with schools and universities on the SDGs, they can reach out to the next generation of future
Moreover, Young Academies can assist the media in building science literacy on the SDGs as well as
confidence in science by contributing to science articles in the popular media and online.
Through all these activities, Young Academies can play a crucial role in demystifying science to the public
by communicating research clearly and accessibly, thereby increasing public trust in science, unmasking
fake news, and exposing infringements on academic freedom
Capacity Enhancement for Young Scientists and Young Academies
An important part of the work of Young Academies is making the SDGs more familiar to our members.
By helping each other to gain a better understanding of policymaking processes and evidence-based
policymaking, as well as how to apply the UN policy framework to joint collaboration in the field of SDG
implementation and monitoring, our work will be more effective and efficient.
Young Academies can achieve this by aligning ongoing academy activities and working groups with the
SDGs, focusing on these goals in meetings and workshops (e.g. 2018 Africa Young Academies Regional
Conference, 2019 Worldwide Meeting of Young Academies), looking at ways to incentivise young
researchers to get involved, and by collaborating with Senior Academies, international science networks
and other stakeholders.
One potential avenue, we suggest, is that Young Academies strengthen their engagement with the
InterAcademy Partnership and their SDG-related project on “Improving Scientific Input into Global
Policymaking: Strategies for Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals”, and their African SDG
project on “Harnessing Science, Engineering and Medicine to Address Africa’s Challenges”, to learn
about pathways into the UN science-policy interface.
In summary, we believe that Young Academies around the world can contribute successfully to national,
regional and global SDGs processes using science, research and innovation. Engaging with our partners,
in particular Senior Academies, we can leverage science to attain evidence-based policymaking and to
deliver tangible outcomes on the livelihood of societies. To achieve this, we will continue encouraging,
training and supporting our members and each other around the globe to be involved in national,
regional as well as international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational SDG-related dialogues and
undertakings, and to work towards embedding the voice of young scientists in any proposed solution for
achieving inclusive sustainability. We now urge SDG policy-makers and Senior Academies to work with
us. We can achieve more by coming together and working jointly towards a “global science” driving
Ratified by the Global Young Academy and the Albanian Young Academy of Sciences, Jonge Academie
(Belgium), Burundi Council of Young Scientists, College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal
Society of Canada, Young Academy of Denmark, Egyptian Young Academy of Sciences, Ethiopian Young
Academy of Sciences, Indian National Young Academy of Science, Indonesian Young Academy of Sciences,
The Israel Young Academy, The Young Academy of Japan, Kenya National Young Academy of Sciences, Young
Korean Academy of Science and Technology, Association of Latvian Young Scientists, Young Scientists
Network-Academy of Sciences Malaysia, De Jonge Akademie (NL), Nigerian Young Academy, The Young
Academy of Norway, National Academy of Young Scientists (Pakistan), Philippine Academy of Young
Scientists, The Polish Young Academy, The RSE Young Academy of Scotland, Académie Nationale des Jeunes
Scientifiques du Sénégal, South African Young Academy of Science, Sri Lankan Academy of Young Scientists,
Sudanese Academy of Young Scientists, Young Academy of Sweden, Thai Young Scientists Academy, Uganda
National Young Academy, Council of Young Scientists at the Women Scientist Association of Uzbekistan,
Vietnam Young Academy, Zimbabwe Young Academy of Science, Jmmi Talla Mbé representing the Cameroon
Academy of Young Scientists initiative, Gergely Toldi representing the Young Academy initiative in Hungary,
Vidushi Neergheen Bhujun representing the initiative of Young Academy in Mauritius, Meghnath Dhimal
representing the Young Academy initiative in Nepal.