[2021] 2020-21 Sustainable Development Transformation Forum

Monday, 22 February 2021 - 8:00pm to Friday, 26 February 2021 - 10:00pm


CONCEPT NOTE & AGENDA (updated as of 24 February 2021)


REPORT OF THE SDTF (17 February 2022)




Day 1 Recording:

"Building Back Better and Greener"

Day 2 Recording:

"Transformative Partnerships for Financing and Investing in Sustainable Infrastructure: Energy and Transport"

Day 3 Recording:

"Industrial, Technology and Labour Force Development Policies for Sustainable Industrial Development"

Day 4 Recording:

"Building Local Sustainable, Low-Carbon Agro-Processing and Construction Materials Industries"

Day 5 Recording:

"Moving to Zero-Waste, Circular Economies"



The Sustainable Development Transformation Forum (SDTF) normally takes place at the end of October every year but, due to the novel coronovirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 2020 SDTF had to be postponed to early 2021. In previous editions of the SDTF, the Forum tended to follow the thread of the previous and forthcoming sessions of the High-level Political Forum, with the aim of bridging the two together and examine their interlinkages, given the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda. It moved away from this approach for the 2019 SDTF, when the Forum instead followed the structure of the Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 (GSDR 2019) using its six identified entry points for transformation and four key levers which, when combined effectively, can accelerate those transformations.

This edition of the SDTF will also be guided by the 2019 GSDR, particularly the four key levers of change to accelerate fundamental transformation towards sustainable development (Governance, Economy and Finance, Individual and Collective Action, and Science and Technology), while focusing on some of the unprecedented challenges the international community is facing due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will discuss experiences, lessons learned, good practices, strategies and measures that were or could be implemented to build back better and greener, using the Sustainable Development Goals as a roadmap for all sectors of society at all levels to work towards a rapid and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate the delivery of the Global Goals during this Decade of Action.



The overarching objective of the 2020-21 SDTF is to achieve a better understanding of successes, lessons and specific mechanisms for initiating and fostering the transformations that are urgently needed to make our societies sustainable, resilient, prosperous, peaceful and inclusive in accordance with the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This edition’s focus will be on building back better and greener through fostering sustainable, low-carbon industrialisation. It will identify efforts being made by governments and the opportunities they can exploit to use COVID-19 recovery plans and budgets to support a low-carbon transition across the economy, with a strong emphasis on decarbonisation of the energy, transport and industrial (including agro-industry) sectors particularly in least developed countries.


Format, Date and Time

The 2020-21 SDTF consists of five two-hour online sessions taking place on 22 February 2021 -  26 February 2021 (inclusive), between 20:00-22:00, Korean Standard Time (KST).


Programme and Agenda

Day 1 (22 Feb 2021)

Theme: Building Back Better and Greener

Moderator: Mr. Jean D'Aragon (Senior Sustainable Development Expert, UNOSD)

Opening Remarks:  

  • Mr. Elliott C. Harris (Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  • Mr. Chun Kyoo Park (Head of Office, UNOSD)
  • Mr. Toru Morikawa (Executive Director, Asia-Europe Foundation)

Moderator: Mr. Colm Foy (2020-21 SDTF Co-convener)

Expert Witnesses:


Day 2 (23 Feb 2021)

Theme: Transformative Partnerships for Financing and Investing in Sustainable Infrastructure: Energy and Transport

Moderator: Mr. David O'Connor (2020-21 SDTF Co-convener)

Expert Witnesses:


Day 3 (24 Feb 2021)

Theme: Industrial, Technology and Labour Force Development Policies for Sustainable Industrial Development

Moderator: Mr. David O'Connor (2020-21 SDTF Co-convener)

Expert Witnesses:

  • Mr. Ambuj Sagar (Founding Head of the School of Public Policy, Indian Institute of Technology - IIT, Delhi, and member of the UN Secretary General's Independent Panel of Experts on Sustainable Development)
  • Mr. Edward Mungai (CEO, Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) Nairobi, Kenya)
  • Mr. Andrew Mold (Chief, Regional Integration and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Cluster, Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA))
  • Ms. Helen Hai (UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainable Industrialisation)


Day 4 (25 Feb 2021)

Theme: Building Local Sustainable, Low-Carbon Agro-Processing and Construction Materials Inustries

Moderator: Mr. David O'Connor (2020-21 SDTF Co-convener)

Expert Witnesses:


Day 5 (26 Feb 2021)

Theme: Moving To Zero-Waste, Circular Economies

Moderator: Mr. Colm Foy (2020-21 SDTF Co-convener)

Expert Witnesses:

The Incheon Communique and Closing Remarks:

  • Mr. David O'Connor (2020-21 SDTF Coordinator)
  • Mr. Léon Faber (Deputy Executive Director, Asia-Europe Foundation)
  • Mr. Jean D'Aragon (Senior Sustainable Development Expert, UNOSD)



The 2020-21 SDTF is organized by the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) of UN DESA, Division for Sustainable Development Goals (UN DESA-DSDG) in partnership with the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).

The Sessions will be led by the UNOSD team, namely, Mr. Jean D'Aragon, Mr. David O'Connor and Mr. Colm Foy, co-conveners of the 2020-21 SDTF.


Target audience

The Forum aims to bring together an international audience composed of a cross-section of decision makers from the public and private sectors, as well as technologists, economists and social science researchers. It will encourage lateral thinking across specialities and sectors. Through cross fertilization, it aims to germinate new ideas about how to induce large-scale positive shifts towards sustainable development in our economies and societies with a view to “transforming our world” by 2030.


Contact Information

For any questions or comments about the progarmme, please contact Mr. Jean D’Aragon, Senior Sustainable Development Expert, UNOSD at daragon@un.org.

For any technical issues, for instance, diificulties to register to the different sessions, please contact Mr. Huiyong Kim, Team Assistant, UNOSD at hui.kim@un.org



For the purpose of this event, UNOSD procures the services of Cisco Webex, an external service provider. Registration for this webinar is supported by the Webex Events registration mechanism and does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities