As centres of knowledge and innovation, universities have a major role to play in developing solutions to global issues. This is why the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have become a focus for Global Education programming. We think it’s important for everyone in our community to understand what the SDGs are – so we raise awareness about them and aim to inspire and motivate people to take action towards their achievement.
The SDGs were unanimously adopted by all 193 UN member states in 2015. They are universal and apply to all countries. The international community aims to achieve these goals, also known as the Global Goals, by 2030. The SDGs are about People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships. The 17 SDGs have 169 targets, and Canada has developed its own indicators to measure progress in achieving them (Towards Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy).
Global Education programs related to the SDGs include:
International Week, an annual week of activities where speakers from campus, local and international communities speak to all 17 SDGs.
World’s Challenge Challenge is a competition, open to all students, to put forward a solution to a global issue in alignment with one or more of the SDGs. The winning team receives $10,000 towards the implementation of their proposed solution.
Welcoming Newcomers Project through which refugee students brought to Canada via WUSC are supported in settling into life at UAlberta, where they receive a quality education (SDG 4).
Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights is an opportunity to learn from leaders engaged in protecting and promoting human rights (SDG 16).
Other events focused on the SDGs: As part of our GLIDe (Global Leadership Intentional Development) program at International House, we hosted the Students’ Union Executive to coach residents on skills of advocacy that can be applied to the achievement of the SDGs.
A panel discussion during Sustainability Awareness Week entitled, “Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals: What Can You Do?” At that event we gained the following insights and advice:
- SDGs are universal: all countries and people can work on these in our own contexts
- SDGs are integrated: economic, social and environmental issues must be addressed together
- You are not alone: individuals can do the best work by mobilizing institutions
- You don't have to do it all: just start with something you really care about
- Look at your own practices that might hold you back from change and collaboration
- Use the "Targets" behind the goals to find tangible ways to contribute
- Find common ground
- Never give up!