The SDG Bergen Policy Brief series is a novel and innovative way to communicate with policy-makers to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goal is to have more research-based information reach policy-makers for societal impact.
The launch of the SDG Bergen Policy Brief series on World Ocean Day 2021 is yet another outlet for the University of Bergen (UiB) to innovate in its communication directed at policy-makers and one more contribution from the university towards the UN Ocean Decade.
Creating innovative communication channels
“We have long worked towards the UN system, national governments and with partners globally to reach policy-makers on a number of levels,” says Scientific Director Edvard Hviding of SDG Bergen Science Advice.
In June 2017, then Rector Dag Rune Olsen sent off a delegation to the first UN Ocean Conference, where a successful side event raised the University of Bergen’s SDG oriented profile. After this, Rector Olsen asked Hviding to start work to establish SDG Bergen.
“We’ve been co-organisers of a number of high-level side events since then, often juxtaposing ocean, climate and partnerships covering several SDGs,” says Hviding, “this was ground-breaking work contributing to the university creating ongoing new communication channels globally and nationally.”
“There was a rush of UiB researchers wanting to contribute, more than we could possibly accommodate within the limited high-level events available, thus we started exploring alternative avenues for giving scientific advice,” Hviding says, with the COVID-19 pandemic creating an urgency to explore digital solutions.
“We are particularly proud to announce the first SDG Bergen Policy Brief on World Ocean Day 2021 – both digitally and in a very limited print edition.”
A sustainable ocean for first policy brief
SDG Bergen Policy Brief #1 contains three policy recommendations to avoid ocean acidification based on data provided by data analysts and researchers from UiB, the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, NORCE, ICOS and the Institute for Marine Research. The data presented in the policy brief has been provided to IOC-UNESCO (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission).
“On behalf of all the authors, I’m extremely proud that our data assessment to combat ocean acidification has become the first SDG Bergen Policy Brief. This recognises our work to provide the world with ocean acidification data. I hope our recommendations provide policy-makers with science-based knowledge to make decisions to save our ocean,” says Leader Benjamin Pfeil of the Bjerknes Climate Data Centre.
It’s no surprise the first SDG Bergen Policy Brief deals with ocean science. UiB has a long ocean research tradition and was recently ranked top 10 for oceanography by the Shanghai Ranking. The university has also been appointed SDG14 Hub for United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI).
“Due to our global leadership role on SDG14, it was only logical for the first SDG Bergen Policy Brief to be ocean-oriented,” says Hviding, “not the least to show the partnership across institutions in the Bergen area when it comes to data analysis and research on ocean acidification.”
UN recognition for new policy brief series
The idea to create a series of SDG oriented policy briefs has met with acclaim in the UN system and internationally.
“The first SDG Bergen Policy Brief addresses challenges in data flow and data availability in respect to SDG target submissions to alleviate a situation of incomplete, disorganized or simply unavailable data. As the world works to harness the vastness and mysteries of the ocean to sustainable human purpose, the work of SDG Bergen continues to explore those possibilities,” says the first UNAI Chief Ramu Damodaran, who retired on 1 June 2021.
Damodaran has been involved in appointing the University of Bergen as UNAI’s SDG14 Hub.
IOC-UNESCO is the custodian agency for the SDG indicator 14.3.1 focusing on ocean acidification measurements in the open ocean and coastal seas.
“We welcome the support by Norway to provide both data and outreach to combat ocean acidification. The first SDG Bergen Policy Brief will help raise awareness among policy-makers, civil society and business stakeholders on the importance of ocean acidification observation and science to mitigate and adapt to ocean acidification, contributing to the sustainable use of ocean resources,” says Dr. Kirsten Isensee, who is a programme specialist at IOC-UNESCO.
From policy brief to science diplomacy
Professor Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen, Barents Chair at UiT – the Arctic University of Norway, is well acquainted with SDG Bergen Science Advice. As partner in the Horizon 2020 project InsSciDE he is actively engaged in developing science diplomacy.
“The policy brief format is very useful for researchers to consider and communicate the relevance of their research output,” says the UiT scientists on the importance of the SDG Bergen Policy Brief series.
Bertelsen also heads the Norway-EU Science Diplomacy Network, where UiT and UiB partner with a number of leading European universities. The network is supported financially by the Research Council of Norway.
This article was first published on June 19 by University of Bergen.