By Ramesh Jaura
NEW YORK (IDN) – The critical role of academia in general and the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) in particular in advancing the goals of the United Nations Charter was underlined when the Organization celebrated the 73rd anniversary of its entry into force on October 24.
In view of the fact that universities play a vital role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015, UNAI announced its new SDG Hubs around the world. These are UNAI members selected as models for their innovative engagement related to the SDGs.
Institutions named as SDG hubs have been designated for three-year renewable terms and will serve as resources for best practices for the UNAI network in some 140 Member States of the world body.
“Scholarship does good. Students deliver goods. Nowhere has this combination worked more effectively, indeed dramatically, than in university engagement with the SDGs,” said Ramu Damodaran, Chief of UNAI.
“Whether through research projects, innovative curriculum or campus activities, the global academic community has summoned its creativity and energy to devising practical ways in which the 2030 Agenda can be fulfilled in a manner that is inclusive, sustained and worthy of the Organization which gave it shape,” he told IDN.
Since 2010, UNAI has created a vibrant and diverse network of students, academics, scientists, researchers, think tanks, institutions of higher education, continuing education and educational associations.
UNAI comprises of over 1300 member institutions in more than 130 countries that reach millions of people in the education and research sectors around the world. Since its inception some 30 international networks of universities and other institutes of higher education and research have endorsed UNAI and encouraged their members to join, representing a global diversity of regions and a thematic wealth of disciplines.
According to UNAI, the work of these institutions is vital to achieving SDGs as they serve as incubators of new ideas, inventions and solutions to the many global challenges. United Nations Academic Impact provides the integral link to these stakeholders to ensure that the international community harnesses the energy and innovation of young people and the research community in service to humanity.
“Every subject and discipline can have a UN imprint. We want relevant institutions to recognize this link and, often without additional effort or expense, undertake activities that can directly support United Nations mandates and objectives,” Damodaran said.
UNAI assists stakeholders in this regard by disseminating information on UN initiatives and activities, providing ideas on how these activities can be applied at the local level on college campuses, in classrooms and in communities, and by providing a platform where university students, academics and researchers can connect and share ideas, research and resources to further the SDGs and other UN mandates.
Following are the hubs for the first Sustainable Development Goals:
SDG 1: NO POVERTY
Kristu Jayanti College (India) offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs and hosts several research centers, including one on social work which has conducted projects focused on contemporary social issues. The college wants its students “to realize their potential and make positive contributions leading to prosperity of the society and the nation at large”.
SDG 2: ZERO HUNGER
The University of Pretoria (South Africa) is one of five research-intensive universities in South Africa. The University’s long-term strategy, UP 2025, is centered on research that addresses societal problems and, in particular, problems faced by Africa as a developing region. It hosts a number of SDG2-related Institutes, Centers and collaborate widely with South African, African and international institutions.
SDG 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
The philosophy of New Giza University (Egypt) is to create an extraordinary youthful environment filled with energy, talent, and cultural diversity that redefines the future Egypt. The institution, which aspires to be a beacon in healthcare education in the Middle East and North Africa region, offers undergraduate degrees in Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy, and believes in participatory approaches where students along with different stakeholders and community members could work together.
SDG 4: QUALITY EDUCATION
The University of La Punta (Argentina) was created to provide intellectual, social and cultural opportunities to the population of the Argentinian province of San Luis. It believes in the need to ensure access to quality education by both traditional and nontraditional means, including virtual education and the use of information and communications technologies.
SDG 5: GENDER EQUALITY
The Ahfad University for Women (Sudan) aims to prepare women to assume responsible roles in their families, communities, and in the nation. In keeping with this objective, the ‘Ahfad experience’ embraces a combination of academic courses, on-the-job training, individual research, and community extension activities.
SDG 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION
The University of Manitoba (Canada) is a top research-intensive institution and is the largest university both by total student enrollment and campus area in the province of Manitoba. Its mission is “to create, preserve, communicate and apply knowledge, contributing to the cultural, social and economic well-being of the people of Manitoba, Canada and the world” with sustainability being one of its key values.
SDG 7: AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY
The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Energy Policy and Development Centre (Greece) is devoted to the study of issues related to the geopolitics of energy in Southeast Europe, the Black Sea and Central Asia regions. With emphasis on the development of regional energy markets, the construction of transcontinental and regional energy interconnections and climate change policies, it promotes scientific and economic cooperation on these issues. KEPA organizes an international conference on energy policy issues, publishes the Euro-Asian Journal of Sustainable Energy Development Policy and undertakes projects on energy efficiency and green energy.
The Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering, and Management Sciences (Pakistan) is dedicated to providing quality education with a focus on research and equipping students to be productive members of society while contributing to the socio-economic uplift of Pakistan in general, and the region of Balochistan in particular. It believes that quality education can contribute to economic growth and it has incorporated entrepreneurship in its curricula for all major degree programs and encourages its students and alumni to launch their own start-ups.
Nagaoka University of Technology (Japan) aims to produce creative abilities based on the educational philosophy of “Science of Technology (GIGAKU)”. NUT has sent over 10,000 graduate-level leading engineers out into the world and contributed greatly to the development of the world industry and infrastructure.
SDG 10: REDUCED INEQUALITIES
Western Sydney University (Australia) is one of Australia’s largest and most dynamic universities with a geographic footprint across one of the nation’s most important economic and culturally diverse regions. It aims to develop students that are global citizens, innovators and future thinkers. The university believes it is important to lead the way in supporting socially just and ecologically responsible societal transformation. Its research institutes contribute to word-leading research in different sustainability fields.
Carlos III University of Madrid (Spain) is one of the largest institutions of higher education in Spain whose mission is to contribute to the improvement of society through high-quality education and cutting-edge research in line with stringent international guidelines. Its activities are guided by a set of values, including sustainability and respect for the environment.
The University of Buenos Aires, Faculty of Economic Sciences (Argentina) has a strong commitment in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A number of research projects are currently being undertaken on several SDG-related topics, in particular Goal 12.
SDG 13: CLIMATE ACTION
The University of Zurich (Switzerland) is Switzerland’s largest university and it sets priorities in research and teaching by considering academic requirements and the needs of society. In addition, UZH takes different steps toward achieving a sustainable campus. The Departments of Geography, Political Science and Communication and Media Research work on topics such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, impact reduction and early warning, the negotiation processes under the UNFCCC and the interlinkages between climate and energy policy.
SDG 14: LIFE BELOW WATER
The University of Bergen (Norway) is one of Norway’s leading comprehensive research universities. UiB organized the inaugural, high-level SDG Conference Bergen in February 2018 on behalf of the university sector in Norway and in cooperation with the Government of Norway. UiB has developed “SDG Bergen” which is a strategic initiative to engage with the SDGs and includes science diplomacy and scientific advice.
SDG 15: LIFE ON LAND
The University of Zanjan (Iran) Faculty of Agriculture has departments of Agricultural Extension, Communication and Rural Development (Agricultural Extension and Education), Horticulture, Plant Protection, Soil Science, Apiculture, Water Engineering, and Food Science and Technology, offering theoretical and practical learning and education in a wide range of undergraduate, Master and PhD courses.
De Montfort University (United Kingdom) is committed to building a scholarly community committed to the public good and underpinned by an ability to challenge convention and create impact. As the lead institution of higher education in the UN’s #JoinTogether campaign, DMU is leading universities and organizations around the world to ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
SDG 17: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS
The American University in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) is a private, non-sectarian institution of higher learning that serves UAE nationals and international students. The institution is committed to shaping global citizens that strive to contribute to both their careers and society. What stands at the heart of the institution is a desire to succeed on all fronts which is manifested in its Purpose-Related Goals, which highlight an aim to foster intercultural understanding and to economically advance all stakeholders. [IDN-InDepthNews – 29 October 2018]
Photo credit: University of Zanjan, Iran.
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
facebook.com/IDN.GoingDeeper – twitter.com/InDepthNew