2021 UN High-Level Political Forum

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Together with the Geneva Science-Policy Interface, SI contributes “Behavioral Solutions for Evidence-based Decision-making” to the UN High-Level Political Forum Session 4: Fostering Evidence-Based Decision-making for Sustainable and Just COVID Recovery and Transformative SDG implementation.

Wednesday, 7 July during the Afternoon (2:00 to 3:45PM EST) 


Learning objectives

The UN 2030 Agenda fosters an approach to sustainable development that relies on specific metrics and motivates the use of scientific evidence and reasoning to monitor progress. In international and national policy-making, evidence-based policy-making is increasingly recognized as the state-of-the-art. As part of this development, NGOs, think tanks and academic institutions work on providing cutting-edge information to policy-makers. The information provided is complemented by other media and public discourse. 

This torrent of information creates cognitive overload. For instance, in the context of a crisis such as COVID-19, more than 100,000 scientific papers were published in ~12 months. 

As decision-makers need to make informed decisions on complex problems under time constraints, they face the problem of sorting through a vast range of information sources of varying quality. 

This challenge, therefore, begs the following question: how can decision-makers deal with information overload in the face of uncertainty? 

This session segment builds on behavioral science to equip participants with cognitive tools to effectively filter information, navigate interconnectedness and learn from their decisions.  

The learning objectives are the following: 

  • Learn about what psychology and neuroscience tell us about decision-making in the face of complexity 
  • Learn about behaviorally-informed techniques that improve individual and collective decision-making  
  • Discover ready-to-use resources to help you make better decisions under time constraints and uncertainty

Description of the full session

Evidence-based decision-making is essential to driving a sustainable and just recovery from COVID-19 and getting back on track with the SDGs, in line with a Decade of Action. Evidence can ground policy programs in facts, allow the anticipation of potential scenarios, and foster constructive exchanges in collective decision-making. This session will showcase new tools, resources, and knowledge platforms enabling the systems-level transformation that is foundational to building forward stronger for current and future generations.  

Partners across sectors will highlight impact-driven solutions critical to a post-COVID pandemic recovery. Presentations will include revised methods to measure national wealth, assessments of business and economic alignment with the SDGs, as well as integrating satellite technology to track SDG progress and bolster disaster resiliency. The session will conclude with the presentation of tools for effective decision-making amidst complexity and information overload.  

Session Partners 

  • International Institute for Sustainable Development   
  • World Benchmarking Alliance, GRI, UN Global Compact, UNRISD, FEMNET, Danish Institute for Human Rights, and the Women’s Major Group  
  • UNITAR-UNOSAT & UK Space Agency 
  • Geneva Science-Policy Interface & Simon Institute for Longterm Governance 


  1. Introduction to overall concept + aims (3-5 minutes) 

  2. Part I: Tools and Resources for Evidence Based Decision-Making (75 minutes in total)  

    1. Thinking Beyond GDP - IISD (25) 
    2. From Fragilities to Resilience: Tools for Sustainable, Just, and Transformed Economies – WBA, UNRISD, GRI, UNCTAD, FEMNET (25)  
    3. Leveraging the use of geospatial information technology and satellite data to strengthen evidence-based decision making for sustainable, climate-resilient and inclusive development - UNITAR-UNOSAT & UK Space Agency (25) 
  3.  Part II: Behavioral Solutions for Evidence-based Decision-making - Geneva Science-Policy Interface & Simon Institute for Longterm Governance (25) 

  4.  Conclusion – Wrap Up (2-3)