Global partnership aims to boost universities’ work towards UN goals

Collaboration between three university alliances hopes to drive cooperation to achieve Sustainable Development Goals

July 23, 2019
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Three global university alliances have launched a new partnership aimed at boosting higher education’s contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), and the International Association of Universities (IAU), which together represent more than 2,000 institutions across the world, established the collaboration to champion the importance of higher education for the SDGs and to call for partnerships within and beyond the sector to achieve the goals.

In a joint statement, the ACU, AUF and IAU called on the higher education sector to provide equitable access to quality university education for all, raising levels of attainment and access; to adopt policies and practices across teaching, research, community engagement and operations to maximise their contribution to the SDGs; and to incorporate education about and for sustainable development into undergraduate curricula.

The organisations also urged the UN and national governments to recognise the contribution of higher education to the SDGs and to engage universities as partners for national development.

Meanwhile, the ACU has launched a separate network to connect universities across the Commonwealth in their work on the sustainable development agenda.

Joanna Newman, secretary general of the ACU, said that “none of the 17 SDGs can be achieved without the contribution of higher education” and the network will “act as a powerful advocacy platform to demonstrate the contribution of the higher education sector to a wider audience”.

Luke Georghiou, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester, which is one of the ACU’s members, added that universities are “increasingly aligning their strategies and operations with the SDGs, becoming beacons of sustainability in their communities and countries”.

“The University of Manchester’s new SDG strategy focuses our work in this area into a plan for impact. Sharing good practice through the new ACU network will strengthen the sector’s contribution to sustainable development, and recognition by policymakers and the wider public of its role,” he said.

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