Global initiative aims to tackle social, environmental and economic problems
The University of Wollongong (UOW) has joined the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change through education, research, policy analysis, and global cooperation.
UOW was announced as a new member of the Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Network of the SDSN on Wednesday 30 October.
Membership of the SDSN aligns with UOW’s longstanding commitment to research that tackles the world’s most pressing challenges, both locally and globally.
The University’s commitment to those challenges is reflected in its ranking of equal 13th in the world in the 2019 Times Higher Education (THE) Global Impact Rankings, based on how universities performed in a subset of the Sustainable Development Goals.
UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Professor Jennifer L. Martin AC said membership of the SDSN would enable the University to tackle the world’s greatest challenges more effectively and to share best practice with a community of likeminded institutions.
“Connecting and collaborating with other knowledge leaders in research and industry, with our communities and with non-government organisations, is what we do best,” Professor Martin said.
“When diverse organisations work together collaboratively with a common goal, we can tackle and overcome large and complex social, environmental and economic problems.
“Joining the Sustainable Development Solutions Network offers the opportunity to work with like-minded partners to create greater levels of innovation and deliver positive impact, locally, nationally and globally.”
UOW’s Global Challenges Program will be the focal point of UOW’s efforts as a member of SDSN.
Global Challenges is a strategic research initiative that brings together world-class researchers from different disciplines to address real-world problems. The program focuses on four challenge areas: Building Resilient Communities, Living Well Longer, Making Future Industries, and Sustaining Coastal and Marine Zones.
Global Challenges Program Director Dr Tamantha Stutchbury said the UN Sustainable Development Goals were closely aligned with those of the Global Challenges Program.
“We understand the need to play our part in a global movement toward change,” Dr Stutchbury said.
“The environment, populations, communities, industries and workforces are changing due to global factors. Over the next decade it is critical that we focus on what our University is able to offer at a global level and improve our ability to adapt.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE also welcomed the announcement, saying universities had an obligation to be at the forefront of global transformation.
“The University of Wollongong is a global leader in discovery and learning, working to bring positive change to peoples’ lives and to the world we live in,” Professor Wellings said.
“The Sustainable Development Solutions Network provides the opportunity to engage our stakeholders, our networks of academic, business and community partners, and our students and researchers to have an impact at global and regional levels.”
Professor Wellings signed a university-wide commitment to meet and address the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals earlier this year on 25 September, to mark the fourth anniversary of the 193 supporting member countries of the United Nations signing the Sustainable Development Goals.
While the University of Wollongong had already been working toward the SDGs through its research priorities and operations, which was recognised in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, the signing reaffirmed UOW’s commitment to support, advocate for and continue to work toward this important global agenda.
About the Sustainable Development Solutions Network
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) mobilises scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector to support sustainable development problem solving at local, national, and global scales.
SDSN Australia, New Zealand and Pacific has a focus on furthering sustainable development within the region. Membership is open to universities and other organisations who can commit a substantial amount of their technical and research work towards finding and implementing solutions for sustainable development.