11 September 2019

The future is now: Science for achieving sustainable development

The United Nations launched a new Global Sustainable Development Report that is based on the work of 15 independent scientists, among them IIASA World Population Program Director Wolfgang Lutz.

Children in school in Uganda © Victoria Knobloch | Dreamstime.com

Children in school in Uganda © Victoria Knobloch | Dreamstime.com

In July 2016, United Nations Members States decided to produce a Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) every four years with the aim to inform the high-level political forum on sustainable development when it meets under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly to review the progress made on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Following an extensive open selection process, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 2007 to December 2016, invited 15 eminent scientists to serve as part of this independent group, among them IIASA World Population Program Director, Wolfgang Lutz.

The latest GSDR titled The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development was received in person by the current Secretary-General, António Guterres, in his offices on 10 September 2019. The main lessons learned will be discussed at a meeting on 11 September, and ultimately presented at a high level political forum, the SDG Summit that will take place in New York on 24 September 2019, where the main topic will be the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report will be published directly and serve as basis for discussions in the United Nations General Assembly as well as other high-level United Nations bodies. It will strengthen the science-policy interface and provide a strong evidence-based instrument to support policymakers in promoting poverty eradication and sustainable development.

During his long career, Lutz has worked on family demography, fertility analysis, population projection, and the interaction between population and the environment. He has conducted a series of in-depth studies on population-development-environment interactions in Mexico, several African countries, and Asia; authored a series of world population projections produced at IIASA; and has developed approaches for projecting education and human capital for all countries in the world by age, sex, and level of education. Lutz is the author and editor of 28 books and more than 200 refereed articles, including seven in Science and Nature. In 2008 he received an European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant, in 2009 the Mattei Dogan Award of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), and in 2010 the Wittgenstein Prize. With the latter he founded the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, a collaboration between IIASA, the Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU).

The full report, The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development, can be found here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/gsdr2019

Handover Ceremony, 10 September 2019, New York © UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

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Last edited: 16 September 2019


Wolfgang Lutz

Program Director

World Population

T +43(0) 2236 807 294

GSDR Report

The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development

Uited Nations Press Resease

Scientists call for urgent, targeted, action to avoid reversing the development gains of recent decade


Lutz W, Crespo Cuaresma J, Kebede E, Prskawetz A, Sanderson W, & Striessnig E ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5419-9498 (2019). Education rather than age structure brings demographic dividend. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: e201820362. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1820362116.

Kebede E, Goujon A ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4125-6857, & Lutz W (2019). Stalls in Africa’s fertility decline partly result from disruptions in female education. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: e201717288. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1717288116.

Lutz W & Klingholz R (2017). Education First! From Martin Luther to Sustainable Development. Sun Media. ISBN 978-1-928357-35-3

Abel G ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4893-5687, Barakat B, KC S, & Lutz W (2016). Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals leads to lower world population growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113 (50): 14294-14299. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1611386113.

Lutz W (2016). Two statements on population and sustainable development produced by global scientific panels in 2002 and 2012. In: Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 2015. Eds. Muttarak, R. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0627-4451 & Jiang, L., pp. 37-45 Vienna, Austria: Verlag der Oesterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. ISBN 13: 978-3-7001-8007-4

Lutz W, Muttarak R ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0627-4451, & Striessnig E ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5419-9498 (2014). Universal education is key to enhanced climate adaptation. Science 346 (6213): 1061-1062. DOI:10.1126/science.1257975.

KC S & Lutz W (2014). Alternative scenarios in the context of sustainable development. In: World Population and Human Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Eds. Lutz, W, Butz, WP & KC, S, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198703163

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