8 December 2023, Geneva, Switzerland - To celebrate a milestone of the partnership and to strategize the way forward, UN SDG:Learn partners gathered for a Retreat “Transforming Sustainable Development Learning on the way to the Summit of the Future”. The Retreat was hosted by UNITAR and organized in a hybrid format.
In preparation for the Summit of the Future, partners conducted a comprehensive review of the accomplishments from 2019-2023 and discussed the strategic pathways for the parternship. The focus was on identifying areas where collective efforts could address emerging challenges and capitalize on new opportunities to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In line with the Summit's core expectations centred on reshaping education and envisioning learning societies, with education and lifelong learning acknowledged as global public goods, partners engaged in collaborative brainstorming sessions on how to champion this agenda leading up to the Summit.
Mr. Nikhil Seth, UNITAR’s Executive Director, in his opening address, emphasized the need for a strategic approach to support the creation of learning societies, and underscored the importance of globally recognizing education and lifelong learning as public goods.
Experts from the partner organizations enriched the strategic discussions by offering insights into key areas. Mr. Georg Boch, Head of Content Production at Ubiquity University delved into the potential of AI in learning, Ms. Lourdes Rodriguez, Global Hub Director at Teach the Future explored meaningful youth engagement, Mr. Hannes Mac Nulty, Manager of Green Industry Platform at Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP), focused on purpose-driven companies, Mr. Raphael Dard, Head of the SME Trade Academy at the International Trade Center (ITC), discussed resistance to change, and Dr. Rachel Bennett, Senior Lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire, addressed challenges related to growing inequalities.
The Retreat also featured high-level guest speakers, including Ms. Anja Kaspersen, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Council of Ethics and International Affairs, and Director for Global Markets Development, Frontier Technologies at the IEEE. Ms. Kaspersen shared valuable insights into the ethical and security aspects of utilizing AI for learning. Additionally, Prof. Gary Marcus, Professor of Psychology and Neural Science [Emeritus] at New York University, highlighted challenges associated with deploying AI for learning from human and cognitive perspectives.
Through in-depth discussions and strategic foresight, various collaborative pathways were identified, such as addressing the learning needs of vulnerable groups, SMEs and businesses, fostering meaningful engagement with AI, promoting youth involvement, and ensuring inclusivity.
The Joint Secretariat is preparing a comprehensive report that will serve as a roadmap for advancing the identified strategic pathways as the partnership progresses towards the future.