26 August 2014

Alpbach-Laxenburg Group: Tackling inequality is key to sustainable development

Inequality must be a primary focus for the post 2015 sustainable development goals, according to a declaration released today by the newly formed Alpbach-Laxenburg Group. 

Members of ALRG: IIASA

Members of ALRG: IIASA

Members of the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group (ALG), a reflection group of world leaders across the main sectors of global society including government, business, science, civil society, and the arts, presented their conclusions today at a public plenary session of the European Forum Alpbach, following a three-day high-level retreat during the Political Symposium of the 2014 European Forum Alpbach focused on inequality and equity.

The group has chosen two issues as their first areas of focus: energy inequality and generational inequality. Globally about one-fifth of the population currently has no access to electricity. This lack of energy access translates into limited opportunities for education and employment, as well as negative health impacts, primarily affecting women and children. Generational inequality refers to the greater burden on the world’s young people, who face high unemployment and challenging economic prospects for the future. 

THE DECLARATION STATES:


"We identify three groups in particular: the world poorest people, often forgotten and struggling daily for survival; the world’s women and girls, still facing legal and social barriers to full participation and empowerment; and the world’s young, facing the stark crises of high unemployment and seemingly diminished lifetime economic prospects."


"Yet the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group also emphasizes that the recent advances in science and technology – most dramatically in the form of the information and communications revolution (ICT) – have the potential to empower these groups and thereby to promote societies that are fair, inclusive, and with broadly shared prosperity."




The group announced their intention to bring together a systems analytic perspective, based on rigorous science done by IIASA and its global network, with world leaders across all sectors of society, to support global diplomacy in achieving sustainable agreements and policies for the world’s future. The group aims to support three major decision making processes slated for 2015: The Financing for Sustainable Development Conference (12-15 July 2015); the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations (23 September); and the pledge for a global climate agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (30 November – 11 December).  

IIASA Director General and CEO Prof. Dr. Pavel Kabat said, “The next 18 months will be decisive for the path that our world will take. We will have these three fundamental moments in 2015 when we can make a real difference. The Alpbach-Laxenburg Group is poised to provide cross-sectoral rigor and input to these three key moments in the world’s decisive discourse.”  

VIDEO

The Alpbach-Laxenburg group, containing great minds from all corners of the globe, spent a day together hiking the Tyrolean mountains, visiting the last working mill in Alpbach and working in seminars high up in the inspiring atmosphere of Böglhof. Produced by the Media Academy of the European Forum Alpbach.

Franz Fischer, President of the European Forum Alpbach, explained the role of as the host of the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group, “Sustainable development is key in the advancement of our societies. Fostering critical, open and innovative discourse has always been at the core of our work and will continue to do so. This is why European Forum Alpbach will host the next meetings of the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group in order to make a lasting contribution to the biggest challenges we are facing today. “

Front - Franz Fischler (President, European Forum Alpbach), H.E. Tarja Halonen (Former President of Finland), H.E. Heinz Fischer (President of Austria), Pavel Kabat (Director General and Chief Executive Officer of IIASA), H.E. Mary Robinson (President of the Mary Robinson foundation for Climate Justice. Former President of Ireland and Chair of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, United Kingdom), Sonja Puntscher Riekmann (Vice President, European Forum Alpbach), Jeffrey Sachs (Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, USA).

Back row - Chin-Min Lee (Special Advisor to IIASA Director General), Jining Chen (President, Tsinghua University, China), Robbert Dijkgraaf (Director, Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, USA), Clemens Hellsberg (President of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra). European Forum Alpbach, August 2014.


Images from Alpbach 2014

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Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, UN special envoy on issues on climate and sustainability, and ALG member, said, “We can address the huge poverty gaps in the world, and we have a means to provide sustainable energy for all, whatever the economic system. We all need to change. We need governance, business, and civil society. We need young people and women to say, ‘Take responsibility.’  I hope we can all go away to contribute to a movement to contribute to the right decisions in 2015.”

The Alpbach-Laxenburg Group was announced last August  as part of the partnership between IIASA and European Forum Alpbach (EFA). In March 2014 a core group of board members of the group met at IIASA in Laxenburg to discuss the structure, mission and research areas for the think tank. 

Alpbach-Laxenburg Group

The Alpbach-Laxenburg Group (ALG) strives to support global economic and social transformations towards sustainability by creating and communicating positive narratives for sustainable development and business opportunities, grounded in cutting edge international systems-science. More

In the picture: H.E. Montek Singh Ahluwalia (Former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission for the Government of India), Pascal Lamy (Former Director General of the World Trade Organisation, former European Commissioner for Trade and Honorary President of the Notre Europe –Jacques Delors Institute, France), Pavel Kabat (Director General and Chief Executive Officer of IIASA, member of the Leadership Council for the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Professor of Earth System Science at Wageningen University), H.E. Mary Robinson (President of the Mary Robinson foundation for Climate Justice. Former President of Ireland and Chair of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, United Kingdom), Jeffrey Sachs (Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon). European Forum Alpbach, 25 August 2014.













Participants of Alpbach-Laxenburg Group Retreat 


H.E. Montek Singh Ahluwalia
Former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission for the Government of India


Ian Chubb
Chief Scientist of Australia and Professor of Biology


Jining Chen
President of Tsinghua University, China


Robbert Dijkgraaf
Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, USA


Franz Fischler
President of the European Forum Alpbach, former European Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries and former Austrian Federal Minister for Agriculture and Forestry


H.E. Tarja Halonen
Former President of Finland


Clemens Hellsberg
President of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Austria 


Pavel Kabat
Director General and Chief Executive Officer of IIASA, member of the Leadership Council for the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Professor of Earth System Science at Wageningen University


Pascal Lamy
Former Director General of the World Trade Organisation, former European Commissioner for Trade and Honorary President of the Notre Europe –Jacques Delors Institute, France


H.E. János Martonyi
Former Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hungary


H.E. Mary Robinson
President of the Mary Robinson foundation for Climate Justice. Former President of Ireland and Chair of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, United Kingdom


Jeffrey Sachs
Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University,  Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon 


H.E. Irene Giner-Reichl
Austrian Ambassador to China


Peter C. Aichelburg
President of the Academic Council, European Forum Alpbach


Peter Balas
Head of the EU Group for Ukraine and former Deputy Director General of DG Trade for the European Commission


Chin-Min Lee
Special Advisor to the IIASA Director General and CEO, IIASA 


Wolfgang Lutz
IIASA Program Director for World Population, Founder and Director of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital and Professor of Applied Statistics at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration


Nebojsa Nakicenovic
Deputy Director General and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of IIASA, Professor of Energy Economics at the Vienna University of Technology and Director of Global Energy Assessment


Philippe Narval
Managing Director of the European Forum Alpbach (EFA)


Kalypso Nicolaidis
Professor of International Relations and Director of the European Studies Center at Oxford University


Sonja Puntscher Riekmann
Vice President, European Forum Alpbach (EFA); Head and Professor, Salzburg Centre of European Union Studies, Paris Lodron University Salzburg


Andra Rupprechter
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment
and Water Management of the Republic of Austria


Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria


Björn Stigson
Former President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Special Advisor to the IIASA Director General and Chief Executive Officer


Vladimir Šucha
Director General of the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission and Professor at Comenius University Bratislava


Miroslav Vesković
Rector of the University of Novi Sad; Priority area coordinator of the priority 7- Knowledge Society of the EUSDR (European Union Strategy for the Danube Region); Former president of the Danube Rectors' Conference


Jan Zielonka
Professor of European Politics, University of Oxford;
Ralf Dahrendorf Professorial Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford



Alpbach-Laxenburg Group members unable to attend

Fahad Bin Mohammed Al-Attiya
Executive Chairman of the Qatar National Food Security Programme and former Advisor to His Highness the Heir Apparent of the State of Qatar


Petr Aven
Chairman of the Supervisory Board at the Alfa Bank and former Foreign Economic Relations Minister of the Russian Federation


Peter Bakker
President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Switzerland


Ralph J. Cicerone
President of the National Academy of Sciences, USA


Vuk Jeremic
Former President of the United Nations General Assembly and President of theCenter for International Relations and Sustainable Development, Serbia


Mario Molina
Nobel Laureate for Chemistry, President of Centro Mario Molina, Mexico, member of the U.S. President’s Committee of Advisors in Science and Technology and holder of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom


Rajendra K. Pachauri
Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), head ofThe Energy and Resources Institute and Director General of the Energy and Resources Institute, India 


Michael Sandel
Political Philosopher and Professor of Har­vard University, USA





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Last edited: 28 August 2014

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Declaration of the Alpbach Laxenburg Group

Inequality must be a primary focus for the post 2015 sustainable development goals

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