Regional cities at the heart of achieving sustainable development goals

Monday, 4 December 2017


The United Nations (UN) Assistant Secretary General, Mr Nikhil Seth, will visit Newcastle this week to discuss how technology can help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) at a local and global level.

UN representatives visiting Newcastle
Associate Professor Graham Brewer, Councillor Nuatali Nelmes, Mr Nikhil Seth, Mr Alex Mejia and Associate Professor Steven Weller

In 2015, the UN set 17 ambitious goals with countries around the world as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that aims to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

Mr Seth said that regional cities can play a key role in contributing the agenda for economic, social and environmental change.

“There is still global debate on the challenge of not just implementing the SDGs, but how to monitor progress towards meeting them both at a national and city level,” Mr Seth said.

“Local level leadership plays a defining role in embracing, implementing and monitoring these goals. Regional cities and towns like Newcastle have an opportunity to set priorities about the goals and targets that can make Newcastle inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable for all who live here.”

Mr Seth will discuss the importance of technology in achieving the SDGs during a free public lecture on Monday 4 December from 4pm at X101, Newcastle City Campus (NeW Space).

The University of Newcastle and the Newcastle City Council will co-host Mr Seth at the Centre for Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction, which is one of 15 International Training Centres for Authorities and Leaders (CIFAL) working under the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

Professor Caroline McMillen, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Newcastle, said that Mr Seth’s visit was a landmark for Newcastle and an opportunity to understand the contribution that centres such as CIFAL make to achieving the SDGs.

“CIFAL Newcastle draws on the University of Newcastle’s strengths in disaster recovery research to build capacity across the Asia-Pacific region and make a real difference to communities,” Professor McMillen said.

“Through the global CIFAL Network, Newcastle is linked to centres of excellence in sustainable development across the world, and will play an important role in developing the capacity of organisations within our region to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Lord Mayor of Newcastle Councillor Nuatali Nelmes, who will host an official Civic Reception for Mr Seth at Newcastle City Hall on Monday morning, said that she was delighted to welcome Mr Seth to the City of Newcastle.

"As the Lord Mayor of a United Nations City, I'm proud to welcome the UN Assistant Secretary General, Mr Nikhil Seth to the City of Newcastle."

"The visit will help to further strengthen the ties between the United Nations and the City of Newcastle and I look forward to Mr Seth seeing the great work that CIFAL Newcastle has been producing."

Since its establishment, CIFAL has focused on disaster risk reduction and sustainable development through working on training and education, research and community engagement projects.

Projects in 2017 have included work on building codes in Nepal and Bangladesh for informal settlements and promoting sustainable approaches to tourism, an industry that accounts for 10 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).