UWN’s SDGs Hub
None of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs can be achieved without the contribution of higher education through research, teaching and community engagement. University World News has set up this SDGs Hub to share best practice and report on the impact and challenges of this work.
Latest Stories
A university in Mexico has developed and deployed an educational technology ecosystem that incorporates artificial intelligence with a view to improving teaching methodologies, enhancing efficiency and integrity in student assessment, and monitoring and supporting the development of transversal and disciplinary student competencies.
PHOTO The Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education, which entered into force in March, represents a true milestone in the international legal framework for qualifications recognition and an important step in boosting international student mobility and helping refugees access education.
PHOTO Rather than an attempt to ‘cancel’ him, exploring honestly and transparently the legacy of J William Fulbright provides an opportunity to face his ‘mixed legacy’, and also that of the field of international education or IE – along with potential contemporary complicities with racial injustice.
Public Engagement
Two global university networks have joined forces to support a collection of exceptional researchers from around the world – both faculty and graduate students – who are conducting engaged research that goes beyond academic study and includes a commitment to long-term sustainable community partnerships.
The Association of Commonwealth Universities has recently launched what it believes to be the first equitable partnerships toolkit, one that provides step-by-step instructions to build fairer North-South and South-South research relationships and turn good intentions about equity in research collaboration into action.
PHOTO Bias in research and its benefits, power imbalances and other inequities has long plagued scientific collaboration. Now ethics experts from around the world have published the Cape Town Statement on Fostering Research Integrity through Fairness and Equity, with 20 recommendations to guide all stakeholders in achieving more just research practice.
PHOTO The World Bank has recommended that Africa produce as many as 100,000 PhD students in a decade. But that does not mean standard processes should be sacrificed on the altar of quantity. Africa needs quality PhDs, which takes time, effort, expertise, commitment and resources.
Teaching and Learning
The internationalisation and development of higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean – where only 0.8% of students study abroad against 2.6% globally – have been boosted by the first meeting of UNESCO’s new regional convention on the recognition of studies and degrees, adopted by 23 countries.
PHOTO As humanity becomes more interconnected, lifelong and lifewide learning will become more ubiquitous as people need to develop more human skills such as higher-order thinking skills, creative thinking skills and strategic metacognitive skills. Education, knowledge and learning must be treated as global common goods.
PHOTO “Higher education in South Africa is not in a good space right now, but the sector has to take responsibility for itself. We can’t wait on the government. We need to move from complaining to reforming,” said Dr Sershen Naidoo, a coordinator of the Higher Education Reform Experts – South Africa project.
Climate Action
Students who are members of the Climate Students Movement have been working across country and regional borders to create awareness about climate change, in particular during April, which they observe as Sustainability Month. The movement mobilises student groups to push higher education institutions to become ‘brave climate leaders’.
PHOTO The idea of creating in the Amazon a global university dedicated to saving the most consequential ecosystem of the planet seems like an unavoidable call to action. The question is not whether we should embrace the idea, but how we can make it work.
PHOTO China’s universities are stepping up to the climate change challenge with an array of initiatives in research, knowledge sharing, national and global collaboration, and teaching and learning. But there are significant obstacles, and more needs to be done to address the link between theory and practice.
Climate Change and COP27
The harassment of mainly female climate scientists and other researchers who talk about their work in the media – both mainstream and social – is having a chilling effect on their willingness to communicate their findings in the public space, a recent survey has found.
PHOTO An estimated 1,750 global institutional members of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, including universities and research centres, are to contribute expertise to the Global Climate Hub, Phoebe Koundouri, a professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business, told delegates at COP27.
PHOTO In an effort to accelerate climate adaptation across Africa, Egypt will host the Cairo Centre for Learning and Excellence on Adaptation and Resilience. Its establishment, with US$10 million to support the launch, was announced by Sameh Shoukry, the president of COP27 and Egypt’s foreign minister.
Access and Inclusion
As universities seek to educate increasingly diverse populations, any commitment to inclusiveness must include the recognition of and accommodation of all disabilities – including invisible disabilities which include chronic diseases and non-diagnosable conditions such as long COVID – and the dismantling of systemic ableism.
Gender Equity
Education, health and financial access are increasingly digital, and not having the skills or access will only increase gender inequity. Access to digital technologies is now a basic human right, says Professor Margee Ensign, the vice-chancellor of the private United States International University-Africa in Kenya.
Partnerships for the SDGs
Universities in Africa should make the most of their current ‘window of opportunity’ to access part of the €150 billion (US$163 billion) that the European Union agreed to invest in the areas of public health, a green transition, innovation and technology as well as capacities for science.
PHOTO On the sidelines of the recent Reinventing Higher Education conference held in Cape Town, South Africa, two academics flesh out what upending the ‘unidirectional gaze’ that characterises existing North-South research collaborations might practically mean for universities, institutions and academics in the Global North.
PHOTO To enhance the impact of Africa-Europe science, technology and innovation cooperation, it is necessary to focus on building capacities for long-term win-win partnerships that are co-founded, co-managed, co-owned and co-financed with an understanding of institutional and country contexts, along with respect for local knowledge and needs.
Peace and Democracy
The importance of strengthening the role of universities in fostering peace and security through engagement with governments was raised at a global meeting of more than 75 university leaders in Tokyo last week and will be conveyed to political leaders at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima.
The new United Nations treaty – 19 years in the making – which provides a legal framework for the establishment of vast marine protected areas represents enormous opportunities for ocean science and the building of marine-related scientific research capacity around the world, experts say.
Employment and Industry
University graduates from a pan-African private higher education network have defied the odds in Africa, a continent suffering high graduate unemployment rates, by crafting partnerships involving universities as well as the private and public sectors to increase job placements, which, in some instances, are securing a 90% employment rate.
PHOTO A group of innovative universities in Sub-Saharan Africa are working on a common problem. How can they bring economic opportunities to the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population? Their solutions to upscale training in digital skills could make all the difference to the continent’s future.
PHOTO The military takeover in Myanmar in 2021 has dramatically disrupted education systems, leaving many university students and prospective students with little choice but to put a hold on their studies, raising concerns from educators about the future of the country’s learners.
Student View
After national governments, higher education institutions are the second most commonly involved organisations in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs around the world and, while they obviously face resource constraints, universities are nonetheless in a prime position to involve young people in SDG-related work.
PHOTO This week sees the most significant political event for education in recent years: the United Nations Transforming Education Summit. Young people have fought hard for the inclusion of climate education and, hopefully, this will be visible in the results of the summit.
PHOTO Florence Jedidiah Mulenga has addressed a United Nations Commission conference about supporting girls in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics space, has won numerous awards and has developed a concept to tackle asthma and hypertension. Next, the fifth-year pharmacy student wants to focus on taking innovations from Africa to a global market.
World Higher Education Conference 2022
The third UNESCO World Higher Education Conference was held in Barcelona in Spain from 18 to 20 May 2022. The theme was Reinventing Higher Education for a Sustainable Future and the plan was to forge a common roadmap for higher education to 2030. University World News is the exclusive media partner for the conference.
PHOTO A groundbreaking UNESCO analysis, which shows the considerable scale of international aid flows to higher education, also reveals the magnitude of the geographical divide between the Global North and Global South and raises questions about who really benefits from such aid.
PHOTO UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay described higher education as a public good and a human right at the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference 2022. This prompted delegates to ask what the right to higher education means in practice and which other rights are needed to deliver on this?
PHOTO The agenda for higher education internationalisation in the Middle East and North Africa or MENA is lagging behind other regions. Some 4.5% of all students in the region were internationally mobile in 2019, but most of that mobility was one way – outward bound – the World Higher Education Conference 2022 was told.
PHOTO How to provide lifelong learning is not a new topic and it has been on the agenda for decades in regions such as Europe. But the advent of SDG 4 has given a new impetus and created a new sense of awareness among universities of their role in providing this form of learning.
SDGs and Agenda 2030
The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs were adopted by all 193 member states of the United Nations in September 2015. They represent an urgent call to action through global cooperation to achieve transformative changes for the world by 2030.
Sustainability Rankings
Work already done towards the development of internationally comparable ‘education for sustainable development’ or ESD indicators – currently missing from all of the existing higher education sustainability rankings – suggests that universities need to select sustainability indicators mindfully, aligned with their own needs rather than latest trends.
From our Archive: Top Stories on SDGs
Female enrolment in higher education has tripled globally between 1995 and 2018. However, recent research has provided evidence that the gender gap in higher education has declined very little in recent decades and closely matches the continued gender inequality in the labour market.
PHOTO None of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs – the internationally agreed framework for tackling poverty, inequality, disease and climate change – can be achieved without the contribution of higher education through research, teaching and community engagement, networks representing 2,000 universities have told the UN.
PHOTO Now is the time for the international community to recognise the fundamental importance of higher education to achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs and for universities to dedicate themselves to helping the world achieve them, say leaders of three global university associations.
Regional Sponsors
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PHOTO Accelerating Community Energy Transformation is a University of Victoria-led collaborative initiative that brings together over 40 partners, including Indigenous knowledge keepers and community leaders, to create innovative place-based solutions for energy system transformation. Promoted by the University of Victoria.
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PHOTO Africa needs to stop paying the price for the rest of the world’s recalcitrance to act fast enough in response to the irrefutable conclusions that climate change is real and that the impact of global warming could be devasting, says Professor Guy Midgley, interim director of the School for Climate Studies at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Promoted by Stellenbosch University.
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PHOTO Researchers from the United Arab Emirates University have shown that the potential benefits of building energy savings and a cooler indoor environment, as well as improved cooling effect on air temperature at pedestrian level, strongly indicate that a cool roof with high solar reflectance and albedo is a promising strategy for buildings in regions with hot, arid climates. Promoted by United Arab Emirates University.
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PHOTO In the publication of its first progress report on its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, the University of Pretoria is navigating new territory at the same time as it is acknowledging its clear stewardship role in protecting the environment and biodiversity. Promoted by the University of Pretoria.