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Global cooperation needed for sustainable development

Author  :  ZHAO YUAN     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-04-21

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent an inspiring program for the world. Through technological innovation and changing governance concepts, countries are dedicating themselves to the transformation toward sustainable development. Enrico Giovannini, full professor of economic statistics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, recently shared with CSST his insights on the sustainable development policies of Europe, talent training in the era of artificial intelligence and the significance of international academic cooperation.

CSST: Environmental protection and sustainable development are the shared tasks of the world. What sustainable development policies are being adopted in Europe, and more specifically Italy?

Giovannini: First, Italy has set up a quite good sustainable development structure that, I hope, will be followed by the new government. The prime minister’s office is responsible for strategic planning of sustainable development now, which is a great step forward compared to giving these responsibilities to one of the ministries. Second, a National Commission for Sustainable Development chaired by the prime minister has been established with representatives of all ministries, municipalities and regions to promote sustainable growth. Third, all the ministries shall report to the prime minister’s office on their action plans for achieving the SDGs by September each year. Moreover, the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development has been set up to gather the strength of all sectors of our society.

CSST: The report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China points out that building an ecological civilization is vital to sustain the Chinese nation’s development. What are your suggestions for China to promote high-quality equitable and sustainable growth?

Giovannini: China has improved very much from an economic point of view. Now, China is shifting from high-speed growth to high-quality growth. How to encourage highquality growth? The first step is to have more balanced policies and more holistic measurements. GDP is an important indicator, but it fails to reflect all domains of quality of life. Environmental upgrading, social protection and other factors all influence quality of life. Therefore, to embrace a more holistic view of what equity and sustainability are is of great significance. Second, to develop analytical tools to guide policies. This is where economic modeling is significant. It can show policymakers the alternatives and the tradeoffs. On top of that, you need to make sure it is used in economic, social and environmental planning.

CSST: What challenges will be encountered during the promotion of sustainable development in higher education, and how can those challenges be tackled?

Giovannini: Many professors talked about interdisciplinarity, but they don’t love it. They want to be the best of their own subject. So this is a challenge that requires changes in the way incentive plans are established. For example, in our university, more teaching positions and funding resources were assigned to interdisciplinary studies. This is why we need to cultivate a new generation of researchers who adopt interdisciplinary approaches and are experts in their own fields. Universities shall prepare students to have transformative resilience, investing in preparing students to cope with shocks, cultivating non-cognitive skills, in order to help students face difficult times. Research in subjects like positive psychology is thriving. Providing lessons on happiness is a practice that needs to be widely spread.




(Edited by ZHAO YUAN )









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