1st KI Conference on Sustainable Development

The first KI Conference on Sustainable Development 'Climate Change - the Health Effects and How to Prevent Them' took place as a hybrid face-to-face and digital meeting on 17th November 2020. 

Ole Petter Ottersen, KI Conference on Sustainable Development, 17th November 2020.
Ole Petter Ottersen, KI Conference on Sustainable Development, 17th November 2020.

The aim of the conference was to provide KI scientists with an opportunity to reflect on how health is linked to climate change and to learn examples of how KI research relates to specific SDGs. The invited speakers were a non-conventional mix of both researchers and experts, over 280 people participated online and Nina Rawal moderated. 

Mats J Olsson, Miia Kivipelto and Peter Stenvinkel. KI Conference on Sustainable Development, 17th November 2020.
Mats J Olsson, Miia Kivipelto and Peter Stenvinkel. KI Conference on Sustainable Development, 17th November 2020.

While the programme was inspirational in itself, a new funding initiative to encourage KI researchers to engage in SDG-related questions was also announced. As well as formal lectures, breakout sessions enabled participants to inform, inspire, interact and start innovative collaborations with each other. The programme was concluded with a summary by Nina Rawal and Susanne Gabrielsson that marked the end of an extremely informative and inspiring day. The whole conference and individual films of each presentation can be accessed below.

Part 1. Introduction and Keynote Speakers

Opening presentations by Gabriel Wikström (National coordinator Agenda 2030) and Ole Petter Ottersen (KI President) summarised both the meaning and importance of SDGs in both a global context and locally at KI, as well as in the respective contexts of global Agenda 2030 and KI 2030  strategies. Sir Andy Haines (LSHTM, UK) described climate change in a time historical perspective, emphasising that most of us have only lived in a ‘hot’ world, and also gave us an overview of the current climate situation. Concrete examples of diseases that are altered by temperature in terms of severity, transmission, prevalence and location were given. Questions from participants were addressed by the 3 speakers in a subsequent discussion session. 

Part 2. Research Funding

Daniela Strodthoff presented a newly established KI grant call aimed to stimulate KI researchers to collaboratively conduct SDG-related research. This indicates the commitment of KI to sustainable development, and certainly promoted interest in participants who asked for more detailed information about the call. Dan Wilhemson (The Swedish Research Council, Vetenskapsrådet) and Nina Rawal (Emerging Health Ventures) then discussed the role of grant-funding agencies and innovation enterprises in sustainable development. While there was particular focus on SDG3 (health), the comprehensive mapping of the current initiatives of government agencies’ work with SDGs indicates a wider vision. 

Part 3. Round table session: Healthy food – healthy people

Mats J Olsson (KI) moderated the session Healthy food – healthy people in which three KI researchers presented their research, linking: how microbial exposure shapes the development of the infant immune system (Petter Brodin, KI); how lifestyle factors affect aging (Miia Kivipelto, KI); and Peter Stenvinkel (KI) informed us how stopping conversion of the Amazon rainforest into a desert will benefit human health. Discussions included how certain foods promote both health and the environment, and how some lifestyle factors may promote health in both the growing and the ageing human.

Part 4. Round table session: Health effects of climate change

The final session Health effects of climate change was moderated by Tobias Alfvén (KI). A further three researchers presented their research, with the complexity of multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary aspects of climate effects on infectious disease (Elisabeth Lindgren, SU); being followed by Erik Melén (KI) who gained our immediate attention when discussing the consequences of toxic air inhalation by children; while Johan von Schreeb (KI) informed how global climate change is linked to natural disasters and advised us how we should be working to prevent them. Discussions included how an incident only becomes a disaster if it strikes a vulnerable populations and how this vulnerability can be reduced. 

Conference organisers

The 1st KI Conference on Sustainable Development was organised by the project team 'One KI for Sustainable Development' that aims to create coherence, so that the entire university is involved in the work of striving to meet the SDGs as described in Agenda 2030.