With the ongoing efforts to promote and implement the UN-SDGs including the EU vote to ratify the Paris Agreement (http://bit.ly/2dpyVoa) there are emerging key strategic issues. Countries around the world are called upon to act quickly to fulfill all the promises for the protection and preservation of the Earth’s natural resources. All society sectors (private and public), knowledge disciplines and human activities on planet Earth, both vertically and horizontally, have direct responsibilities in the ongoing process of transformation. There should be tools and instruments to assess the role and involvements on several levels, i.e. through coordinated webs of Key Performance Indicators. Among such instruments is the Nobel Prize which indeed played, and still playing, important role in promoting essential knowledge disciplines. However, knowledge in itself has to be promptly and effectively utilized by all sectors and on all levels to promote and implement the Paris agreement through effective coupling of diverse and wide spectra of knowledge to society, population and the market needs. It is interesting to see how far the Nobel Prize contributed in the past in developing the UN-SDGs, and also how much it will contribute in promoting and implementing these goals in future.
By founding the Nobel Prize in 1901 Alfred Nobel made the name Nobel famous worldwide. But Alfred’s prize was not the first Nobel Prize. As early as 1889 the Ludvig Nobel Award was founded. Ludvig was Alfred Nobel’s older brother and worked as a scientist, inventor and businessman in Russia during the second half of the 19th century. Alfred was most likely inspired by his brother Ludvig when founding his Nobel Prize, one of the most prestigious scientific awards of all times. Ludvig and his other bother, Robert Nobel, had an oil company in Baku, a manufacturing site for diesel engines in St. Petersburg and many other industrial sites throughout Russia during the late 19th century. Ludvig, however, strived to improve the conditions for the workers at the industrial sites by the introduction of shorter working hours, schools, healthcare, recreational facilities and also cooperative banking system for the employees. This was the 1st global initiative towards the implementation of Applied Sustainability but still lacked the environmental issues. In this context Sustainability and Social commitment was the trademark of the Nobel industries as visioned by Ludvig and Robert Nobel. The Russian revolution in 1917 changed the scene dramatically. Ludvig Nobel’s prize in science and research never became much more than a dream due to the revolution.
Thanks to the global trends of human thinking and the recognition of R&D as an integrated part in socio-economic developments, i.e. in the framework of the UN-SDGs, today the efforts of Ludvig Nobel and his brother have not been forgotten specially in Russia and Azerbaijan.
Recently, the Nobel family has taken the initiative to honor the memory of Ludvig. The Nobel Sustainability Trust was founded with the purpose of encouraging research and/or practice of sustainable and renewable energy, through an award. Not to be confused with the Nobel prize of Alfred Nobel and will be given to worthy individuals or organizations that during the year have carried out significant accomplishments in the field of renewable/sustainable energy (http://nobelsustainability.org/history/).
However, there are other wider initiatives to realize the importance of UN-SDG as they involve coupling many other sectors and disciplines in particular those related to Water – Energy – Natural Resources Nexuses. Still water, sanitation and hygiene in developing countries are taken much smaller proportion in relation to the R&D done within energy-related sectors and disciplines. In this context, additional steps are being taken by the United Planet Faith and Science Initiative by launching a website that attempts to win a Nobel Peace Prize for Sustainable Development (NP4SD.org) with a shared nomination of an organization and two individuals. As explained by “NP4SD.org” it is not a new Nobel Prize, it is a Peace Prize to be shared by nominees whose work is foundational and seminal in the field of sustainable development (http://www.upfsi.org/). Among cases in the past where sustainability issues were taken in consideration is 2004-Peace Prize (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2004/press.html).
Among other strategic efforts to support UN-SDGs, is to give Ecological Economics greater worldwide exposure and to create more widespread understanding of other strategic fields of importance for our well-being, survival and life-quality on planet earth and its growing population (http://www.isecoeco.org/nobel-peace-prize-for-sustainable-development/). Yet, much more is still needed to be done to promote and implement better policies for education, R&D and Transfer-of-Knowledge in the developing countries. If the Nobel Prize is used as indicator for these strategic activities it is very easy to conclude that the major parts of planet earth suffer from huge knowledge poverty. Then we can simply ask how the UN-SDGs be effectively implemented to achieve global sustainable socio-economic developments? Would the UN-SDGs be only a day-night dream for generations to come?
This said, the traditional Nobel Prize has on large-scale and long-term perspective an long-standing importance, directly or indirectly, on improving our overall understanding of planet Earth and to some extent the fundamentals of improving life quality on the Earth’s surface. Building on science pyramid on large-scale and long-term perspective is strategic in pushing forward the wheels of technology and development. However, developments in science and technology in the past century along with the weak coupling with global sociey sectors through ineffective policy-making and lack of global coordination have caused the ongoing degradation in life quality on Earth. These negative trends could have be avoided or even limited if the UN-SDGs were realized and founded much earlier.