26 August 2018 - 28 August 2018
Alpbach, Austria

IIASA at the European Forum Alpbach 2018

In August, IIASA leadership and researchers will join global business leaders, investors, and academics in Alpbach, Austria, to discuss courses of action for sustainable change. At the Political Symposium, co-organized by IIASA, researchers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs will examine the relationship between “Diversity and Resilience” and discuss the challenges and opportunities diversity offers to Europe, peace, security, and a sustainable future.



As strategic partners, IIASA and the European Forum Alpbach (EFA) launched the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group in 2013. In the past four years, this group has held high-level retreats during Political Symposia to discuss sustainable development and the implementation of the SDGs.

High-level representatives from academia, business, governments, civil society, and the arts, will return to Alpbach for a fifth retreat on 26 August. The 2018 retreat of the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group, entitled “Reconciling Biodiversity Protection and Climate Mitigation Efforts”, will focus on discussing and developing a shared narrative integrating biodiversity and climate debate.

The retreat will coincide with the Political Symposium of the European Forum Alpbach, discussion will center around how to develop a shared narrative for action on biodiversity and climate protection within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, and explore which instruments can facilitate integrated policy action.

Program Highlights

Political Symposium Closing Plenary Session:

28 August 11:00-12:30 Reconciling (bio)diversity protection and efforts to mitigate climate change'

Presented by the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group in cooperation with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Efforts to curb human-induced climate change and strategies to reverse the loss of biodivesity are often addressed in a fragmented, rather than integrated manner by policy-makers
and scientists. How can we develop a shared narrative for action on biodiversity and climate
protection within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals? Which instruments can
facilitate integrated policy action?

Chair: H.E. Heinz Fischer, former President of the Republic of Austria


Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir (Club of Rome & University of Reykjavik) – tbc
Irina Bokova, former Director General of UNESCO
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – tbc
David Nabarro, former Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General Political Symposium

Breakout Session

26 August 10:00-12:30 Implementing the SDGs: The challenges countries face and the solutions they offer

The Agenda 2030 with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals provides a shared vision
for the world. Implementation, however, lags behind the ambitious targets. The SDG
Index by Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network
has been assessing country performance on the Sustainable Development Goals on an
annual basis since 2015 (www.sdgindex.org). Its motivation is to raise awareness for the
historical commitments and to facilitate peer-learning towards implementing the SDGs.
What are the most pressing issues that countries face? What can be learnt from best

Jeff Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and IIASA Distinguished Visiting Fellow will take part in a breakout session with former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Ambassador Kim Won-soo former Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Susan Myers, Senior Vice President, United Nations Foundation, and Aart Jan De Geus Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh

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Last edited: 08 August 2018


Pavel Kabat

IIASA Director General and Chief Executive Officer


T +43(0) 2236 807 402


Jan Marco Müller

Head of Directorate Office


Science to Policy and Diplomacy Coordinator/Science Officer

Exploratory and Special Projects

T +43(0) 2236 807 633

Alpbach-Laxenburg Group

EFA Program 2018

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313