To accelerate solutions for the world’s biggest challenges — from poverty and inequality to climate change and resource depletion — the United Nations has declared 2020 to 2030 a worldwide Decade of Action to meet its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Concordia is officially joining the effort.
To signal its commitment, the university is signing the University Global Compact, a declaration that enlists postsecondary institutions in the work of delivering on the SDGs.
Concordia is also joining Sustainable Development Solutions Network Canada, part of an international movement of universities, colleges, research centres and knowledge institutions that aims to develop practical solutions for a cleaner, fairer future.
The UN developed the 17 SDGs after a years-long consultation process. Approved in 2015, the goals provide a call to action and game plan for promoting prosperity while protecting the planet.
“Sustainable development is more urgent than ever for countries the world over,” says Concordia President Graham Carr. “It’s for everyone, everywhere. We’re in this together — it’s a shared responsibility.”
He sees tangible benefits to making an institutional commitment to the SDGs. “These goals are not just aspirational. They will provide us with a framework to direct our engagement and efforts, spell out specific objectives and allow us to link to greater networks and communities,” he adds.
Carr envisions Concordia developing courses and further learning opportunities related to the SDGs — such as the Sustainability Ecosystem established by the John Molson School of Business — that foster the development of new SDG-oriented research collaborations and forges close partnerships with other universities doing groundbreaking work around the global goals.
In addition, Concordia will be exploring the creation of an SDG Lab for Montreal and Quebec. It will be modelled on the SDG Lab in Geneva, Switzerland, which aims to spur collective action on the SDGs locally and provincially.
Concordia’s actions are in line with an emerging push toward the SDGs in Quebec. Earlier this year, a consortium of non-profit organizations, private companies, foundations and citizen’s groups formed the Consortium Accélérer 2030 pour le Québec to increase awareness about and action to meet the goals.
“This new commitment is an exciting opportunity for Concordia to advance our academic engagement and interconnectedness with others,” says Anne Whitelaw, interim provost and vice-president, academic. “It will move us toward our ambitious goals of increasing our social impact and working in partnership with communities, governments and business on sustainable futures.”
Paula Wood-Adams, interim vice-president of research and graduate studies, agrees, noting that the SDGs also provide a valuable route for Concordia researchers to collaborate with and link to international networks.
“They will compel us to think in ways that cross interdisciplinary research boundaries to address questions such as those relevant for cities, health and sustainability.”