Iain Patton, CEO of EAUC and co-convener of the Global Alliance reports back on the impact of the SDG Accord
Last week we launched the SDG Accord report at the UN High Level Political Forum and one of its recommendations for the UN was immediately recognised and accepted.
This achievement is reflective of the high-level influence and impact of the SDG Accord and its signatories.
As it stands, the SDG Accord has over 600 signatories, including 64 institutions representing c. 1.28 million students and 46 global education sector networks (us!) and another 33 support organisations representing over 6000 institutions.
The UN High Level Political Forum is the pinnacle of global SDG advocacy. It is the chance to show world leaders why post-16 education is so important to the delivery of the Global Goals and lobby Nation States to work more closely with learning institutions.
The vehicle we chose to reach as many UN bodies possible is the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI). HESI is a partnership between United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNESCO, United Nations Environment, UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, United Nations University (UNU), UN-HABITAT, UNCTAD and UNITAR.
At each HLPF, HESI runs the official event profiling and advancing the contribution of the world’s universities and colleges to achieving the Global Goals. Representing the Global Alliance, EAUC successfully bid to present a learning session at the HESI event at HLPF 2018. This was a very high profile opportunity to present the SDG Accord report to the UN and member state representatives.
On Wednesday 11th July at the UN Headquarters in New York, I presented the first SDG Accord Report “Global universities, colleges and students leading delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals”. I talked about the key findings of the report and highlighted some of the report case studies contributed by the signatories; University of Aalto, UCSI University, University of Gloucestershire and the University of Kent.
The report concludes with recommendations, the first of which is that the UN
“Recognises the SDG Accord and the Global Alliance of university and college sustainability networks as a formal Higher Education Sustainability Initiate (HESI) SDG enabling partner”. We are delighted to report that this recommendation has been accepted by the HESI UN group. This means the SDG Accord is now a recognised tool of HESI and you can find a link to it on the HESI site.
The recommendations we have made as part of the SDG Accord report
To the UN
- Recognise the SDG Accord and the Global Alliance of university and college sustainability networks as a formal Higher Education Sustainability Initiate (HESI) SDG enabling partner.
- Endorse and communicate the important role higher and further education makes in contributing to delivery across all the SDGs (not just SDG 4).
- Seek ways to convene tertiary education stakeholders and bring to wider attention examples of best practice from universities and colleges.
Call on country members to mandate the embedding of Education for Sustainable Development and whole-institution university and college sustainability assessment and formally report on it.
- Enable the UN organisational members of the HESI to more regularly communicate, coordinate and host an annual cross system event in partnership with the Global Alliance.
- Create a mechanism to fund international collaborative interdisciplinary research opportunities in and between universities and colleges on the SDGs.
To All Universities and Colleges
- Sign the SDG Accord at a senior leadership level.
- Collaborate with your local Accord Endorsing Partner and contribute to the national and international repository of SDG Accord learning.
- Report formally internally and externally on SDG progress through the SDG Accord Reporting process.
- If your institution undertakes research, change the research application to necessitate researchers $B!G (B outlining which of the SDGs the work contributes towards
- If your institution looks to update or begin new processes, incorporate the SDGs. Particularly in strategies, policies and the updates to the curriculum or course review process.
- Look for innovative ways to increase staff and student capacity to address the SDGs.
- Sign the SDG Accord
- Start a conversation with your university or college and ensure the SDGs are being integrated into your course and/or research, as well as wider operational and engagement activities
- Be the change you want to see.
To Accord Endorsing Partners
- Encourage your members to sign the SDG Accord and facilitate their national and international knowledge exchange
- Integrate the SDGs into the tools, standards and accreditations you control
- Create new resources and services to support your members to engage more staff and students in the SDGs, and create new approaches to SDG research
- Create more opportunities for national and international SDG collaborations across other networks which are part of the Global Alliance