Tackling tough trade-offs while leaving no one behind: on fossil fuels and pandemics

Professor Joyeeta Gupta / IHE Delft SEI photo

Organisers: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm University and Stockholm Environment Institute

When: Wednesday, September 2nd, 15:00 to 17:00 AM CEST

Where: Online. Register Here.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm University and SEI are proud to present the Gordon Goodman Memorial Lecture 2020, which will be delivered on 2 September by Professor Joyeeta Gupta, professor of Environment and Development in the Global South at the University of Amsterdam, and IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in Delft. She is the co-chair of UN Environment’s Global Environmental Outlook-6 and is chair of the Earth Commission set up by Future Earth. Among many of her notable achievements, she was lead author in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. She has also just been named as co-chair of the Earth Commission (2019-2021), set up by Future Earth.

The rush towards win-win solutions often leaves out the discussion on the tough trade-offs and the big externalities. This postpones the less popular debates for the future and these non-decisions then become apparently insurmountable. For example, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change does not mention fossil fuels. But how can the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals be achieved without phasing out fossil fuels? Leaving fossil fuels underground can cost the global economy between 12-185 USD trillion depending on how you calculate. But there are big policy dilemmas in trying to organise a phase out. Similarly, the bulk of the measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic focus on reducing vulnerability and finding cures; but it does not address the underlying problems of biodiversity loss that has contributed to the problem.

What are the challenges in tackling tough trade-offs while leaving no one behind?

Building on the recent Global Environment Outlook-6: Health Planet, Healthy People, the lecture will focus on two issues – energy and health (COVID -19). In each of these areas it will focus on the tough trade-offs – leaving fossil fuels underground and addressing global pandemics and what this does to development as we currently understand it. Thinking about development as the well-being of the masses as opposed to the wealth of the upper classes may be one way to live within planetary boundaries. But it will meet strong opposition from vested interests.



15:00 – 15:05 – Welcoming remarks:

Åsa Persson, Deputy Director, SEI

Göran K. Hansson, Secretary General, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Johan Kuylenstierna, Senior Advisor to the President on Sustainability and Adjunct Professor at Stockholm university; Vice Chair, Swedish Climate Policy Council


15:05 – 15:35 – Lecture by Prof. Joyeeta Gupta, Tackling Tough Trade-offs While Leaving No One Behind: On fossil fuel and pandemics


15:35 – 16:25 – Panel discussion, including:

Ulrika Modéer, Assistant Secretary General and Director of Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP

Nonette Royo, Executive Director, The Tenure Facility

Jonas Ebbesson, Professor of Environmental Law, Stockholm University

Sivan Kartha, Senior scientist, SEI US and co-leader, SEI Gender and Social Equality Programme

Moderator: May Thazin Aung, Research Fellow, SEI Asia


16:25 – 16:30 – Closing remarks


16:30 – 17:00 – Media Advisory (closed to public)


The Panelists

Ulrika Modéer, Assistant Secretary General and Director of Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP

Ulrika Modéer is Assistant Secretary General and Director of Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP. She leads the UNDP’s strategic partnerships with governments, civil society, and other key partners, as well having a vital role in leading UNDP’s communications and advocacy across the over 170 countries. Prior to this she served as State Secretary to the Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Isabella Lövin, where her areas of responsibility focused on international development cooperation, Sweden’s global development policy, and international climate financing. Ms. Modéer has been instrumental in reshaping the Sweden’s international development cooperation to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Ulrika Modéer has over 20 years of experience in international and national politics and a strong policy background with parliamentary and civil society experience.


Nonette Royo, Executive Director, The Tenure Facility

Nonette Royo is the Executive Director of the Tenure Facility. She is a lawyer, activist, and author, specializing in the land rights of Indigenous Peoples and community-based natural resource management. She most recently led the Samdhana Institute in Southeast Asia. In the past two decades, Nonette has pioneered civil society initiatives in public interest law and environmental justice in the Philippines, Indonesia, and mainland Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, she co-founded an organisation for legal and policy research and advocacy on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and another dedicated to women’s rights. Until recently, Nonette also served as Vice President for Research and Social Outreach at Xavier University in the Philippines. In Indonesia, Nonette assisted environmental advocacy and social justice movements. Her work includes facilitating the establishment of NGO networks and multi-stakeholder coalitions in key forested and biodiverse locations. Nonette also helped develop the Indigenous People’s Support Fund, which nurtures local indigenous organisations’ visions to protect the last contiguous biodiverse landscapes in the region.


Jonas Ebbesson, Professor of Environmental Law, Stockholm University

Jonas Ebbesson is Professor of Environmental Law, and former Dean of the Faculty of Law and Director of Stockholm Environmental Law and Policy Centre at Stcokholm University. His research focuses on transboundary dimensions of environmental law, and he has written substantially about legal aspects on public interests, public participation, access to justice and human rights in environmental matters. Jonas Ebbesson has been active in academia and education for more than 25 years. He has also been a member of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee since 2005 and acted as a consultant for governmental and intergovernmental bodies, such as the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Swedish Ministry of Finance and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), among others.


Sivan Kartha, Senior scientist, SEI US and co-leader, SEI Gender and Social Equality Programme

Sivan Kartha is a Senior Scientist at SEI US and co-leader of SEI’s Gender and Social Equality Programme. Sivan’s research and publications for the past twenty years have focused on technological options and policy strategies for addressing climate change, concentrating most recently on equity and efficiency in the design of an international climate regime. He is co-Director of the Climate Equity Reference Project. His current work deals primarily with the economic, political, and ethical dimensions of equitably sharing the effort of an ambitious global response to climate change. His work has enabled him to advise and collaborate with diverse organisations, including the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), various United Nations and World Bank programmes, numerous government policy-making bodies and agencies, foundations, and civil society organisations throughout the developing and industrialised world.

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