Our Mission

The International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) provides a forum for academia, government, civil society, UN agencies, and the private sector to come together to share practical solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


In 2013, an ocean away from New York, a meeting was held in Dakar, Senegal, to find solutions to the complex challenges of sustainable development. Participants felt that a larger conference was needed to bring others into the dialogue, and thus in an auditorium at Université Cheikh Anta Diop, it was decided that the Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice programs would partner with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network to launch the first ICSD. The first ICSD took place in September 2013 and has continued annually. The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the world in 2020 but ICSD persevered, moving the event fully online. With the virtual event, the conference became more accessible as the program covered time zones across the globe and admission was free for all participants. Now it is time for the 9th ICSD and the online format will continue to ensure global access.

Access previous conference content: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.

Why Attend?

ICSD is the top academic international conference for discussing sustainable development issues. The parallel sessions include over 300 oral and poster presentations from researchers and development practitioners from across the world, presenting their work on topics ranging from gender equity to climate change to economic development, all focused on solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, ICSD’s plenaries allow participants to hear thought provoking speeches and conversations from leaders in the field of sustainable development. Speakers and panelists include heads of state, UN officials, CEOs, economists, and university professors. ICSD is a truly global event with programming that spans across all time zones and welcomes participants from all across the world – 149 countries in 2020 to be exact! Side events offer participants additional opportunities to meet with fellow participants, explore specific topics with more detail, and learn something new. Former participants had this to say about their ICSD experience:

“I have been a researcher in sustainable development since the late 1990s and have applied the concepts in practice and education. ICSD is the most holistic conference with the latest developments in the field, and cutting edge technologies all covered within the conference themes. One gains knowledge of the upcoming themes in the area, and also what are the research findings in all the related UN agencies and Universities around the world. In a way, the ICSD conference truly brings the world together in taking stock of SGDs and the way ahead.” Rashida Atthar, 2020 Oral Presenter | Civil Society

“As a researcher in sustainable urban development and climate change, this type of event represented an opportunity to share experiences and co-produce knowledge. It was satisfying to meet many people among academics, students and professionals. The case studies presented allow us to organize concepts and understand how other contexts, not so different from our own, face issues such as climate change and risk management. Without a doubt, this has been an exciting and motivating experience.” Myriam Jácome, 2020 Oral Presenter | Academia

“Very useful to my current capacity and kept me updated on the SDGs progress.”Thamrin Hanafi, 2019 Participant | Private Sector

“I attended ICSD to share my research on the role of the private sector in contributing to the SDGs. The efforts of companies are needed to achieve the SDGs by 2030 but there is a clear need to ‘go beyond business as usual’. Facilitating this requires interdisciplinary perspectives. I am grateful that ICSD gave me the opportunity to engage with researchers and practitioners from a wide variety of backgrounds. The valuable insights that I gained allow me to develop a much needed interdisciplinary sustainability approach in my research at the Rotterdam School of Management, as well as in my consulting work at Steward Redqueen.”Jan Anton van Zanten, 2018 Oral Presenter | Academia

Who is in the Audience?

ICSD brings together professionals from the private sector, academia, government, and civil society, along with development practitioners and students and faculty from the world’s top universities. We welcome participants from all sectors and experience levels. The 2020 event welcomed 1,738 participants from 149 different countries! We expect an even larger 2021 audiences as we continue to improve the online experience.

About the Organizers

The Global Master’s in Development Practice (MDP), an interdisciplinary graduate degree program, prepares students to better identify and address the challenges of sustainable development. MDP programs generally consist of two years of coursework in four intersecting disciplines—health, natural, social, and management sciences–combined with cross-sectoral field training.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) aims to accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world. The SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society.