Implementing the SDGs at Higher Education Institutions: Challenges and Responses

By the Global University Network for Innovation

On October 4th 2019, the Global University Network for Innovation’s Group of Experts presented its second publication devoted to the implementation of SDGs at Higher Education Institutions, in a public event at the Ateneu Barcelonès in Barcelona. More than 85 people attended the event, which promised to be an enriching experience and provided a variety of cultural and geographical approaches to the implementation of SDGs at Higher Education.

Looking at the 2030 Agenda from a Higher Education perspective, its main strength is that it has given us the opportunity to once again shed light on the essentiality of embedding certain values and practices in the main missions of our institutions. The 2030 Agenda has given us the chance to rethink the role of higher education institutions, as reflected in GUNi’s mission statement. It also goes a step further by making everyone responsible and calling for collective action. Universities have multiple roles to play in this (in education, research and as institutions in a specific economic and social ecosystem).

“Implementing the 2030 Agenda at Higher Education Institutions: Challenges and Responses” is the second publication of the GUNi Group of Experts on SDGs and Higher Education devoted to SDGs. It focuses on the obstacles that HEIs encounter when implementing the SDGs and offers some clues as to what some higher education institutions do to overcome them. It includes regional and institutional approaches to sustainable development and it offers a picture of how some higher education institutions can, and do, embed sustainable development in their core missions. Through this project, GUNi hopes to demonstrate its commitment and reinforce the role of HEIs, partnerships, knowledge and research in the achievement of the goals and a better future for all.

In this publication, you will find some approaches and examples as to what kind of obstacles higher education institutions find and how they are trying to overcome them in their specific contexts. In any case, at GUNi we firmly believe that (1) awareness raising, (2) more and stronger partnerships, (3) lobbying for an improved policy environment and (4) support for transdisciplinary work at HEIs, and also between HEIs and other institutions and organizations, will be of key importance in the quest towards implementing the goals set for 2030.

The GUNi Group of Experts on SDGs and Higher Education:

In response to the 2030 Agenda, GUNi established a strategic line around sustainable development. One of its main initiatives is the Group of Experts on SDGs and Higher Education, whose members are representatives of some of the most relevant networks and organisations of higher education and sustainable development. This document is its third publication, and on its pages, you will find relevant examples, inspiration and recommendations for partnering for implementing the SDGs.

In line with the need for global and local transformations, the group of experts and GUNi will continue their strong commitment to the 2030 Agenda by celebrating the 2nd GUNi International Conference on Sustainable Development Goals and Higher Education on March 5-6th, 2020 which will take place at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

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