Alpbach-Laxenburg Group

Bridges vol. 41, October 2014 / IIASA

By IIASA

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 by the newly formed Alpbach-Laxenburg Group. 

Members of the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group (ALG), a collection of world leaders representing the main sectors of global society including government, business, science, civil society, and the arts, presented their conclusions at a public plenary session of the European Forum Alpbach, following a three-day high-level retreat. Their meeting was held during the Political Symposium of the 2014 European Forum Alpbach and dealt with inequality and equity.

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

The group announced their intention to bring together world leaders from all sectors of society, with a systems analytic perspective based on rigorous science done by IIASA and its global network, 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 ﷟HYPERLINK http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/ Financing for Sustainable Development Conference (July 12 – 15, 2015); the adoption of the ﷟HYPERLINK http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/beyond2015-overview.shtml Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations (September 23); and the pledge for a global climate agreement at the ﷟HYPERLINK http://climate-l.iisd.org/events/unfccc-cop-21/ 21st Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (November 30 – December 11). 

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.”  

Franz Fischer, president of the European Forum Alpbach, explained the role 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 [we] 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.”

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. 

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The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an independent scientific institute that studies problems that are too large or too complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline. IIASA is based in Austria and its international research covers broad areas of energy and climate, food and water, and poverty and equity. IIASA is located in Austria near Vienna and is sponsored by its National Member Organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. To view the original article select here.