Actioning the Sustainable Development Goals
February 25, 2022
Recently, Queen’s University joined the University Global Coalition (UGC), a platform of higher education institutions around the world committed to advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Founded in 2019, UGC promotes the incorporation of the SDGs into post-secondary teaching, research, operations, and partnerships through sharing of resources and best practices that support institutions in addressing the global goals. In signing the UGC’s six-principle declaration, Queen’s is strengthening the university’s global engagement and signifying the international alignment of the mission and vision of the new Queen’s Strategy. This is in coordination with the active role Queen's is playing in the fight against climate change with our institutional commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 through the Climate Action Plan.
Action and awareness
One such initiative is the UN SDG Action and Awareness Week where UGC members are invited to take part in virtual SDG events hosted by universities around the world. Taking place from Feb. 28 to March 4, the week promotes awareness of the SDGs among students in higher education, inspiring them to be leaders in furthering the goals on their campuses and in their local communities. This year, Queen’s is participating in this week with several events and activities that showcase student initiatives and highlight collaborations across the university between faculty, staff, administration, alumni, and students in responding to these global challenges.
"I am pleased that our university has joined the UGC alongside other institutions that share our vision for research, teaching, and student leadership through the lens of the UN SDGs," says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. "Queens’s University is committed to making a global impact through our work and we have made significant progress as an institution. Participating in the SDG Action and Awareness week provides us with an opportunity to both reflect and act upon our aspirations as a university for the future."
Celebrating progress and social impact
To highlight the community’s progress in advancing the SDGs, Queen’s has launched a new website and report focused on social impact. Organized under the themes of research and innovation, teaching and student life, community impact, global reach, and operations, the website and report provide a snapshot of activity and collaborations specific to each of the 17 SDGs with impact across our campuses and beyond, such as stewardship activities and responsible investing strategies. These initiatives will be highlighted throughout the week as part of a social media campaign.
Queen’s SDG Student Hub
The Queen’s SDG Student Hub, an initiative that aims to support and encourage students to learn, engage with, and act on the 17 SDGs, will be hosting a week-long virtual speaker series. Throughout the week, there will be talks led by Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and Kingston community leaders on the topics of SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and SDG 13: Climate Action and each will identify how participants can get involved in SDG action locally. The SDG Student Hub is part of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Youth, a division of SDSN which is a global movement of 1,300 institutions, including Queen’s, dedicated to promoting practical solutions for sustainable development.
As a further commitment to measuring our institutional progress in addressing the SDGs, Queen’s will again be participating in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. The only global performance tables that assess a university’s societal impact across research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship, the efforts of Queen’s community resulted in a ranking of first in Canada and fifth in the world in 2021.
17 Rooms event
Brainstorming on future opportunities, nearly 300 members of the Queen’s community participated in a 17 Rooms event in June focused on how the university could mobilize the SDGs in significant and innovative ways. A fast-paced exercise used by institutions worldwide, the 17 Rooms event brought staff, faculty, and students together to raise awareness about the SDGs. The reports from each room are now available on the Office of the Principal’s website. The brainstorming sessions highlighted potential avenues for SDG action, some of which have already inspired and will continue to shape university initiatives.
Art of Research
For Queen’s community members looking to get involved in promoting action and awareness of the SDGs, University Relations is launching a re-imagined SDG-focused Art of Research photo contest this week. Open from Feb. 28 to April 6 to all Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the contest celebrates its sixth year of showcasing the ground-breaking research of the Queen’s community. The new categories reflect Queen’s researchers’ active contributions to the SDGs and the university’s commitment to making a global impact.
To learn more about Queen’s initiatives and activities during UN SDG Action and Awareness week, follow Queen’s University on Twitter at @queensu.