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 11th ICSD and the event has adapted a hybrid format to continue ensuring global access.
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:
“It was an incredible experience to be part of such an important event organized by UN SDSN. … It was a truly enriching experience, and I am grateful for the platform that ICSD provided to share my research and insights with fellow participants. … The recent ICSD at Columbia University was exceptionally insightful and provided a valuable platform for discussing critical water-related issues.” Compiled from 2023 Participants
“It was an amazing experience. Seeing what other people around the world are doing in the development space is encouraging. There is hope for the coming years. 2030 is the goal.” – Olanrewaju Alagbe, 2022 Participant | Government
“My guide and mentor motivated me to participate and contribute in this outstanding and unique conference, as my research interests are embedded in sustainability. I gained a lot of new ideas and different perspectives on varied topics, some of them so distinctive and interesting, that I plan to work on them in future. The quality of speakers was top-notch excellent and networking opportunities were immense. I hope to collaborate with some of the contacts that I made during this conference for my future research s well. Thank you ICSD-2022 organizers!” – Raghav Bhardwaj, 2022 Poster Presenter | Academia
“This is my second year of attending the conference. As an educator in higher institution in the Philippines, having this kind of international event provided me additional knowledge particularly on SDGs and able to apply it in my teaching. It is an effective to way learn from the presenters and be inspired to present a paper in the future conference. Indeed, despite the current pandemic, the organizer was able to continue to organize and reach out to the different parts of the world on how SDGs will be implemented in all sectors and the best practices will be shared during the annual conference. “ – Reynaldo Ramos, 2021 Participant | Academia
“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 2021 event welcomed 2,057 participants from 119 different countries! We expect an even larger 2022 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.