The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by the United Nations in 2015, provide a blueprint for achieving wealth while safeguarding the environment. What do they signify for universities, for Canada, and for Indigenous people in Canada?
On November 29, Concordia President Graham Carr will host a public virtual SDG launch event that will address these concerns.
The SDGs provide an important integrated framework for the institution that encourages partnership and collaboration in order to achieve common goals.
The pandemic has shown our worldwide potential to combat a major threat to our lives and livelihoods in a coordinated manner. It reminds us of the importance of overcoming big disruptions like those we are expected to experience as a result of climate change, for example, and the SDGs are a critical tool in this effort.
The SDGs, or Sustainable Development Goals, encompass activities surrounding social justice, inclusivity, the economy, strengthening institutions, and increasing collaboration on sustainable development across sectors and organizations, in addition to climate and other traditional sustainability aims.
Concordia’s commitment to the SDGs will result in significant changes in its teaching, research, and operations. It will have an impact on existing course curricula and the development of new courses, as well as new research opportunities and strategic partnerships with other universities and community groups. Other Canadian universities and research funding agencies have already expressed their support.
The event on November 29 will kick off a process to examine Concordia’s present contributions to the SDGs and deliberate about how to embrace the Global Goals more fully. A Voluntary University Review (VUR) is the name given to this process of self-evaluation.
VURs is based on mechanisms that countries and cities have already used to assess their SDG performance. In recent years, businesses and universities, such as Carnegie Mellon University, have begun to do comparable self-assessments.
The VUR will use information gathered from Concordia’s participation in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings to gain a better understanding of the university’s SDG-related activities. Concordia was ranked 62nd in the world overall and in the top 25 in the world for efforts related to reducing inequality, combating climate change, and creating sustainable cities and communities earlier this year.
The President’s Office, as well as the offices of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic; Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies; and Vice-President, Services and Sustainability, lead Concordia’s VUR. The work is being guided by a 22-person SDG steering committee.
A 17 Rooms exercise, which will begin in January, is one of the upcoming activities. The series of brainstorming sessions, which will follow a model developed by the Brookings Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation in the United States, will allow members of the Concordia community to engage with the SDGs and think together about how to deepen and amplify the university’s SDG efforts.