GFSE is now a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network

The Global Forum on Sustainable Energy has recently been accepted as a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). This network was launched by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2012 and aims to mobilize scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable development problem solving.

Despite the progress that has been made under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), more than 1 billion people are still living in extreme poverty. In order to address sustainable development challenges, including increasing social acceptance, guaranteeing environmental sustainability and ending poverty, good public and private governance is needed. By accelerating joint learning and by promoting integrated approaches to environmental, social and economic problems, the SDSN aims to make a contribution to solving sustainable development challenges.

The SDSN has actively been contributing to the work of the Open Working Group on SDGs through its reports and evidence papers, all of which can be found here. So far, the Open Working Group on the SDGs has put together recommendations on 17 global sustainable development goals and 169 accompanying targets; these were endorsed in the UN Secretary General's report called The Road to Dignity by 2030.

The SDSN regularly publishes reports on the progress made in adressing sustainable development challenges. The World Happiness Report, for instance, offers an overview on the state of global happiness, describing how measurements of well-being can be used to assess the progress of countries.

The first World Happiness Report 2012 reviewed the scientific understanding of measuring subjective well-being and presented a range of internationally comparable data. The World Happiness Report 2013 further included mental health, the importance of strong ethical foundation and a comparison of life evaluations against the UNDP's Human Development Index (HDI).

The recently-published World Happiness Report 2015 addresses, among others, the range of happiness measures, the use of happiness as a measure in a cost-benefit analysis, and the importance of social capital. A survey was conducted in 158 countries asking participants to evaluate the quality of their current lives on a scale of 0 to 10; this score was then averaged over the years 2012-2014. Six key variables, namely GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and freedom from corruption, were used to evaluate the quality of life. Of the nations that participated in the survey, Switzerland had the highest happiness ranking, while participants from Togo were unhappiest with their quality of life. Eight of the ten lowest performing countries are located in sub-Saharan Africa, while the remaining two are war-torn countries, namely Syria and Afghanistan.

Figure 1: Geography of Happiness (green = happiest countries, red = unhappiest) (Source: World Happiness Report 2015, Figure 2.1)

Additionally, the changes in happiness from 2005-2007 and 2012-2014 were compared, showing that of the top happiness gainers, five countries are in Latin America and three are in sub-Saharan Africa. It was also found that major crises have the potential to alter life evaluations, since they have a tendency to damage the social atmosphere by triggering strife and unhappiness.

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