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ISC and its partners organised the 9th edition of the Science Summit around the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) on 12-29 September 2023.
The role and contribution of science to attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the central theme of the Summit. The objective is to develop and launch science collaborations to demonstrate global science mechanisms and activities to support the attainment of the UN SDGs, Agenda 2030 and Local2030. The meeting will also prepare input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place during UNGA79 beginning on 12 September 2024.
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Friday, October 6 • 6:00am - 7:30am
[VIRTUAL] Raw Materials for the SDGs and the post-SDG Agenda (061001)

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Raw materials extracted from the Earth, including but not limited to metals, construction materials like stone, crushed stone, and aggregate, as well as water, play an instrumental role in numerous sectors, and especially in creating the infrastructure necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These materials underpin the manufacturing of an array of technologies that are crucial to realizing a carbon-neutral future, a cornerstone of many SDGs.

To illustrate, metals serve as the foundation for many technological advancements, providing essential components in the manufacturing of electronic devices, vehicles, and renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels. These devices and systems are integral in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a key aspect of SDG 13 (Climate Action), and transitioning towards more sustainable, resilient societies.
Similarly, construction materials like stone and aggregate are indispensable for creating the physical infrastructure. They are vital in the construction of hospitals, schools, and transport systems, which are directly related to SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG 4 (Quality Education), and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), respectively.

Water, a life-sustaining resource, underlies the realization of numerous SDGs. It is not only essential for SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) but also crucial for agriculture and thus impacts SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), among others.
However, the exploration and extraction of these raw materials have multifaceted societal implications and impacts. On the one hand, they can drive economic growth and development. On the other hand, they can also lead to environmental degradation, disrupt local communities, and contribute to social inequality if not managed responsibly.
As we navigate towards a broader understanding of sustainability, it is crucial that we acknowledge the importance of these raw materials for all seventeen SDGs. This acknowledgement should not be limited to an examination from the perspective of physical sciences such as geoscience and hydrology, which primarily focus on understanding the physical world and its processes. It also necessitates the integration of insights from social sciences and humanities, which can provide invaluable perspectives on human behaviour, societal structures, and cultural dynamics.

A comprehensive and holistic approach is required, embracing a global partnership that encompasses diverse disciplines. This will ensure that the pursuit of raw materials for sustainable development is not only technically feasible but also socially just and culturally appropriate. The ultimate goal should be to align the extraction and use of these raw materials with sustainable practices to not only address our current needs but also to ensure that future generations are able to meet theirs.

avatar for Murray Hitzman

Murray Hitzman

CEO, iCRAG: the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre in Applied Geosciences
Murray W. Hitzman is Director of iCRAG and a Science Foundation Ireland Research Professor. Murray has B.A. degrees in geology and anthropology from Dartmouth College (1976), an M.S. in geology from University of Washington (1978), and a Ph.D. in geology from Stanford University (1983... Read More →
avatar for Frank Mugyenyi

Frank Mugyenyi

Executive Director, Minerals African Development Institution (MADI)
Frank Dixon Mugyenyi is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Minerals African Development Institution (MADI) Ltd and former Coordinator of the Africa Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), a Specialised Agency of the African Union responsible for the implementation of the Africa Mining... Read More →
avatar for Maria Angela Capello

Maria Angela Capello

Executive Vice-President
A renowned leader in the energy sector, Maria Angela Capello (“MAC”) is a relentless fighter for Sustainability and Equity across the industryMAC is an active collaborator of the United Nations and numerous non-profit geo-centric organizations such as the SPE, SEG and AAPG.  Her... Read More →
avatar for declan kirrane

declan kirrane

Chairman, Science Summit UNGA78
Declan Kirrane is the Founder and Managing Director of ISC Intelligence in Science, the chairman and managing director of the science Summit at the United Nations General assembly, and co-founder of Medicines for Future (MAF). He has over 25 years of experience as a global senior... Read More →

Friday October 6, 2023 6:00am - 7:30am EDT
  Materials, Policy