(World Government Summit, Dubai) — The World Government Summit is a futuristic event. Some presentations border on science fiction; like the prospect of splicing a jellyfish (the natural world’s most efficient sponge!) with mangrove tree roots (the natural world’s most effective desalinator!) to boost water supplies. On policy issues, some ideas are at the very cutting edge of the discourse: like incorporating “Gross National Happiness” as a scientific indicator to guide public policy decisions.
But woven throughout it all are ideas, concepts and approaches to governance and public policy that are not brand new. They are at least two years old and already embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals. (These are the 17 goals that all the world’s governments agreed upon in 2015 to achieve by 2030, including eradicating poverty, many diseases and promoting clean energy, peace and prosperity for the entire planet.)
Several panels were dedicated to exploring the ways that the private sector, civil society and governments at all levels can begin to devise policies to execute against these goals. Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed described how cities can rapidly implement sustainability projects even as the federal government stalls; Economist Jeff Sachs offered a rousing call to action for what he called “climate security;” and several experts and sustainability enthusiasts coalesced to generate ideas and specific action items around each of the 17 goals.