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CIRSD President speaks at University Presidents meeting

The President of the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD), Vuk Jeremić attended one of the biggest regional meetings of University Presidents from Asia, Europe and the Middle East, devoted to the University Sector’s support to the UN Decade of Action.

This prestigious event, held on January 18th, 2022, was organized by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in partnership with the UN Secretary General’s office. SDSN is one of the leading international NGOs in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, through education, research, policy analysis, and global cooperation.

The meeting brought together 96 University Presidents, more than 40 experts from the UN, private and government sector, to discuss national and global pathways for achieving a sustainable future. This dialogue aimed to strengthen the cooperation between universities and local and global actors, as well as to emphasize the former’s key role in initiating structural changes.

During his opening remarks, the President of SDSN Professor Jeffrey Sachs highlighted the opportunity presented by the meeting to connect efforts across universities in the region. He underlined the significance of responding to imminent challenges with the best knowledge, holistic approaches, cutting-edge research and multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Sachs reminded the participants of the universities’ vital role in tackling the ever-emerging challenges caused by the global pandemic, the most notable being the deepening gap between the rich and the poor, as well as social and ecological crises. He concluded that although universities are met with new challenges, a plethora of new opportunities has risen and that a transdisciplinary approach is what is needed to achieve the SDGs.

During his speech, CIRSD President Vuk Jeremić reflected on 2015 – the year when the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted – calling it a “peak year for multilateralism”. He noted that over time geopolitical circumstances have made it much more difficult to implement this vision of a better world.

In his remarks, Jeremić explained that today we live in a geopolitical recession that has brough about a dramatic deficit of international cooperation. He added that these trends were further exacerbated by the pandemic, which brought to light all of the weaknesses of the international system.

He underlined the lack of cooperation in responding to the global crisis, adding that populist governments focusing on short-term goals has shifted the debate to nationalism and politics of antagonization. As long-term, strategic thinking takes a backseat, we can expect further relegation of the 2030 Agenda to the back burner of government’s priorities across the globe. 

Jeremić concluded it was up to the universities to rise above the “short-termism” that has permeated our society and encouraged them to be bold and fearless in leading the national, regional and global efforts towards a sustainable future.

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