Interlinking Challenges, Interdisciplinary Solutions




Latest News

Print article
Mar 16, 2018
by Salzburg Global Seminar
Register for our Newsletter and stay up to date
Register now
Interlinking Challenges, Interdisciplinary Solutions

Latest Salzburg Global Seminar session looks at targeting interdisciplinary research to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in climate change, conflict, health and education

The 17 global goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are nothing short of ambitious. Building on from the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to “transform our world,” calling for action in both developed and developing countries. While the broad goals each have specific targets, no one goal can be achieved in isolation. Efforts to achieve one goal will help to advance another—and failures to address some will lead to negative impacts on others. 

Quality education (SDG 4) greatly improves health and well-being (SDG 3), which in turn can increase prosperity, but increased consumption that often comes with that can hinder local and global efforts to tackle climate change (SDG 13). Similarly, reducing conflict (SDG 16) may have benefits for employment and economic growth, but these cannot be sustained unless inequalities in education and access to health care are also addressed. Without holistic action for equality and social justice, peace may be short-lived or conflict may continue by other means. Achieving the targets set out in any of the SDGs thus calls for an interdisciplinary and cross-sector approach. 

Recognizing the significant challenge that comes in adopting such an approach, Salzburg Global Seminar is convening the session, Climate Change, Conflict, Health, and Education: Targeting Interdisciplinary Research to Meet the SDGs, at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria, starting this Sunday, March 18.

The intensive three-day session will bring together 65 researchers, policymakers and development experts to explore how research can be more effectively translated into policy and practice in order to identify the interlinkages—and tensions—between the SDGs, and how top research funders can help lead the way.

One such leading research funder is session partner, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which is a £1.5bn fund established by the British government to help UK researchers work in partnership with researchers in developing countries to make significant progress in meeting the SDGs. Representing the GCRF at the session is UK Research and Innovation, a newly created body that brings together the seven UK research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and UK Research and Innovation Champion for the Global Challenges Research Fund, said: “We're delighted to partner with Salzburg Global Seminar to explore the ways excellent research of the kind being undertaken through the Global Challenges Research Fund can help to tackle the most stubborn development challenges across and between the Sustainable Development Goals.” 

The session will enable discussion and exploration that span research, policy and practice. This will be achieved through a series of panel discussions and hands-on exercises that will examine the opportunities, challenges, and trade-offs involved in developing interdisciplinary approaches to the implementation of the SDGs related to climate change, conflict, health, and education. The session will also look to identify current research gaps and look at how to communicate the complexity of interdisciplinary research in order to shape evidence-based policy and practice. 

Through its programs, Salzburg Global Seminar seeks to bridge divides, expand collaborations and transform systems. In order to take the work of this session beyond Schloss Leopoldskron and advocate for change in their own sectors, participants will co-create a Salzburg Statement. The Statement will offer key recommendations for various stakeholders and serve as a call to action to help participants personally as well as their institutions and communities.

“Finding solutions to long-standing, seemingly intractable problems and the specific challenges that the SDGs look to mitigate against requires new ways of thinking and new approaches,” says Salzburg Global Program Director Dominic Regester. 

“We are delighted that so many experts across different sectors and geographies have given willingly of their time to come to Salzburg. We very much hope that the Statement that will be collectively authored during and after the session will help advance understanding of and opportunities for interdisciplinary research.”

The session, Climate Change, Conflict, Health, and Education: Targeting Interdisciplinary Research to Meet the SDGs, is being held in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). More information is available online: To join in the discussions online, follow the hashtag #SGSsdgs on Twitter