Fall Intern + UN Sustainable Development Forum

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in News

This summer we have had the pleasure of getting to know our intern, Sean Baraoidan, who has (luckily) decided to stay with us through the Fall, while obtaining graduate course credit through the University of South Florida Urban and Regional Planning program, for his continued work on Urban Resilience in the Tampa Bay area with the REAL team.

Here is his first blog post about his incredible trip to NYC (his first time to the Big Apple) for the United Nations Sustainable Development Forum! He also snuck in some time on the catalyst infastructure project the Highline, and got a good glimpse at one of the largest urban development projects in the US…Hudson Yards.

Take it away, Sean…

Last month I attended the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development in New York City. While the overall purpose of the forum was to review the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the topic of this year’s HLPF was eradicating poverty.

Day 1

The conference’s first day included discussions surrounding the issues of poverty, hunger, and gender equality. These may not seem to be as relevant to Tampa Bay as other regions or countries, but there were also much further-reaching subjects, such as the Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiatives and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.

Many of the topics surrounding equity, resiliency and sustainability can translate to issues that many cities face, however big or small.A recurring theme among all discourse was the need for stakeholder engagement and partnership in order to reach inclusive and comprehensive solutions. If Tampa is to assert itself as one of the greatest US cities, these principles must be incorporated every step of the way.

Day 2

Due to my personal interests, the second day of the High Level Political Forum was even more enjoyable than the first. We spent most of this day in the Sustainable Development Goal Business Forum, which included a handful of sessions filled with speakers representing businesses or governments that are actively contributing to the 2030 SDGs. Many speakers stressed the importance of private investment in the SDGs and in the betterment of society as a whole. Additionally, investing in a community is good for business even if it does not directly result in profits. A healthier, more equitable community will lead to a more successful local economy.

After the SDG Business Forum, my classmates and I attended an event at the German Consulate. At this event, we had the privilege of meeting and listening to our online lecturer Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned economist and expert on sustainable development. Dr. Sachs spoke about the importance of setting goals that are measurable. He stressed that having measurable progress allows us to gauge what we are doing right and wrong. This was incorporated into the attainment of the SDGs by developing the SDG Dashboard, essentially a report card for countries to determine where they stand in achieving the SDGs.

Once again, these principles hold true outside of the United Nations’ agenda. In order to transform our cities into more resilient, healthier, and livable places, we must set goals that are both obtainable and measurable.

UN Day 1.1UN Day 2.1