Sustainability goals

Universities can make a difference for 2030 Agenda

Proposal by UNESCO and Norway for universities to work together to establish a global working group of researchers and academics to provide knowledge on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The university sector can play a role in the work with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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During a working lunch for university leaders from all over the world in Paris in November 2019, the Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, presented the initiative.

The plan is to establish a working group to create guidelines for the university sector's work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Universities and colleges must play an even more important role if we are to achieve the world's sustainability goals. This applies both by providing students with knowledge through their studies about the challenges we face and by allowing research to contribute new solutions, technology and understanding of social change. I hope the initiative of the University of Bergen and the other Norwegian universities can help lift efforts to achieve the sustainability goals globally”, says Iselin Nybø, Minister of Research and Higher Education.

In 2018 the five major universities in Norway established a national committee for the 2030 Agenda in the Norwegian university sector, following an initiative from the University of Bergen. It is this committee that is now behind the UNESCO initiative.

"Global cooperation is fundamental to the work on the SDGs", says Vice-Rector for Global Relations Annelin Eriksen at the University of Bergen.

Achieving the sustainability goals of the 2030 Agenda requires major societal changes. Universities have a dual role in helping to bring about the necessary changes, according to Eriksen.

“Education must provide young people with the necessary knowledge to meet the challenges we face in order to create sustainable societies. In addition, the research can contribute to new solutions, new technology, and a new understanding of how to achieve major societal changes”, she says.

During the launch of the UNESCO working group in Paris, UiB's Rector Dag Rune Olsen emphasized that universities must not only work together but build partnerships with other sectors, both private and public.

The members of such a working group will be appointed by UNESCO through a nomination process, and will consist of leading scientists and scientists working in the field of sustainable development.

Norway and UNESCO will establish a secretariat for the working group. The working group will present a final report at the UNESCO General Conference in 2021.