26 August 2018 - 28 August 2018
Alpbach, Austria

IIASA at the European Forum Alpbach 2018

IIASA leadership and researchers joined global business leaders, investors, and academics in Alpbach, Austria, to discuss courses of action for sustainable change. At the political symposium, co-organized by IIASA, researchers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs examined the relationship between diversity and resilience and discussed the challenges and opportunities diversity offers to Europe, peace, security, and a sustainable future.



As strategic partners, IIASA and the European Forum Alpbach (EFA) launched the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group (ALG) in 2013. In the past four years, this group has held high-level retreats during political symposia to discuss sustainable development and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Global thought leaders from academia, governments, business, civil society, and the arts returned to Alpbach for a fifth retreat on 26 August. The 2018 ALG retreat entitled “The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Paris Climate Agreement: Can they be reconciled?”, focused on discussing and developing a shared narrative integrating biodiversity and the climate debate.

As a result of this meeting a number of key recommendations relating to climate change and biodiversity loss have been detailed including the need to:

  • Compliment policy discourse around targets with a focus on integrated pathways towards the SDGs across conventions and other multilateral agreements. 
  • Develop multi-objective financing frameworks to catalyze and upscale concerted action on climate, the environment, and land-use.
  • Engage the private sector and consider the multi-faceted role of trade to bring about economic transformation towards sustainability.

For full details of all the recommendations please see the final outcome document  

During the ALG 2018 retreat IIASA Director General Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat and incoming IIASA Director General Albert van Jaarsveld, met with former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and former Federal President of Austria Heinz Fischer to discuss potential future collaboration between IIASA and the newly established Ban Ki-Moon Center for Global Citizens (BKMC), which will have offices in both Vienna and Seoul.

The meeting was also attended by Special Adviser to the UN on the SDGs and IIASA Distinguished Visiting Scholar Jeff Sachs, BKMC Vienna Hub Director Monika Froehler, BKMC Advisory Board Member Won-Soo Kim, Yoo Soon-Take, Sonia Sachs, Margit Fischer, Anneke Kabat-Geselschap, and Nina van Jaarsveld.

Potential topics of collaboration include developing thematic and political frameworks to link the UN SDG agenda, the Paris Agreement, and other international (environmental) conventions such as the CBD to create holistic and integrated implementation frameworks. In addition, participants will be working together to develop a global school of excellence in sustainable studies in line with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Academy and SDSN Youth.

Several IIASA staff contributed to the success of the ALG 2018 meeting. Van Jaarsveld and Michael Obersteiner, Ecosystems Services and Management Program director, gave the opening presentations. Jan Marco Mueller, head of directorate, and Frank Sperling, senior project manager, prepared supporting documents and facilitated the ALG meeting discussions.

18.08 IIASA at the European Forum Alpbach

The retreat coincides with the Political Symposium of the European Forum Alpbach, discussion centered around how to develop a shared narrative for action on biodiversity and climate protection within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, and explore which instruments can facilitate integrated policy action. 

IIASA Director General and CEO Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat has been awarded the Alpbach Badge of Honor by the European Forum Alpbach for his contribution to the EFA. His award was presented at the opening ceremony at this year's forum on 19 August 2019.

Program Highlights

Political Symposium Closing Plenary Session:

28 August 11:00-12:30 The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Paris Climate Agreement: Can they be reconciled?

Presented by the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group in cooperation with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Efforts to curb human-induced climate change and strategies to reverse the loss of biodivesity are often addressed in a fragmented, rather than integrated manner by policy-makers
and scientists. How can we develop a shared narrative for action on biodiversity and climate
protection within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals? Which instruments can
facilitate integrated policy action?

Honorary Chair: H.E. Heinz Fischer, former President of the Republic of Austria

Moderator: IIASA Director General and CEO Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat


Irina Bokova, former Director General of UNESCO; Board Member of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre
David Nabarro, former Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General Political Symposium
Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir, Club of Rome & University of Reykjavik

Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of OECD 

Breakout Session

26 August 10:00-12:30 Implementing the SDGs: The challenges countries face and the solutions they offer

The Agenda 2030 with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals provides a shared vision
for the world. Implementation, however, lags behind the ambitious targets. The SDG
Index by Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network
has been assessing country performance on the Sustainable Development Goals on an
annual basis since 2015 (www.sdgindex.org). Its motivation is to raise awareness for the
historical commitments and to facilitate peer-learning towards implementing the SDGs.
What are the most pressing issues that countries face? What can be learnt from best

Jeff Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and IIASA Distinguished Visiting Fellow will take part in a breakout session with former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Ambassador Kim Won-soo former Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Susan Myers, Senior Vice President, United Nations Foundation, and Aart Jan De Geus Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh

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Last edited: 07 September 2018

Alpbach-Laxenburg Group

Alpbach-Laxenburg Group Meeting 2018

EFA Program 2018

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313