Sustainability Council Annual Report 2021

Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations unanimously adopted the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), identifying the most pressing challenges facing society and charting a path forward to address them. The University of Alberta plays a key role in advancing these goals through our research, teaching, and knowledge dissemination. Since 2019, the Sustainability Council has worked to integrate the SDGs into many of our programs.
Times Higher Education Impact Rankings
Under the Sustainability Council and University of Alberta International’s leadership and initiative, the University of Alberta completed a first submission to the .
The Impact Rankings are the most prominent method for global universities to demonstrate how their teaching, research, operations and other activities contribute to solving the world’s most pressing issues. They do this by assessing universities’ efforts to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Times Higher Education requires universities to evaluate four out of the 17 goals, including SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals. We submitted data for all 17 goals, collecting 500 pieces of evidence against 75 metrics and 248 indicators. An even greater quantity of evidence was reviewed and considered. The team leading this project engaged with over 100 content experts in over 50 units and faculties across all campuses.
On April 22, 2021, it was announced that we placed 64th out of 1,115 world universities based on stewardship, outreach and research that advances sustainable development. We performed especially well on goal 15 for protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, and on the goal for Zero Hunger.
SDG Working Group
The Sustainability Council continued collaborating with University of Alberta International to advance initiatives related to the goals within both units and to raise awareness across the university. A webpage was launched to highlight researchers, programs and opportunities related to the SDGs.

Sustainable Development Solutions Network
Additionally, the university joined the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, giving all faculty and staff access to a global network or researchers, policymakers and educators engaged on the SDGs.
work includes publishing whitepapers, road maps and reports, as well as hosting conferences. A number of projects focus on data visualization, including , which uses publicly available data with tailored metrics to show how all countries are progressing on each of the SDGs.
Educational resources are available through the , a curated, free library of lectures and materials on issues of sustainable development, including a searchable repository of videos available for instructors to use in their own courses.
All University of Alberta members are now able to access , the internal communications platform exclusively for SDSN Members. The platform can be leveraged to share publications, communicate about events, submit calls for proposals, share funding opportunities, or simply ask questions or share information relating to the SDGs.
Classroom Engagement
The Sustainability Council supervised three Community Service-Learning projects that asked students to help raise awareness of the SDGs. International students who were attending school interviewed local experts on sustainability issues and connected them to expertise at the University of Alberta. Other students created social media campaigns and blog posts, and worked to establish an awareness-raising student group.
Joan Greer invited us to speak to two of her History of Art, Design and Visual Culture classes about the university’s SDG initiatives, and her students provided advice on how best to engage the university community through social media, communications and events.
“The in class discussion with Trevor made me very excited for where the university is headed in terms of sustainability.” Student in HADVC 309
International Week Keynote
International Week is an annual incubator for ideas on how to advance the SDGs locally and around the world. The Sustainability Council hosted and organized 2021’s opening keynote lecture, a live streamed presentation and discussion between our director, Robert Summers, and Lizzie O’Shea, an Australian digital rights activist and lawyer. O’Shea founded Digital Rights Watch to advocate for freedom and fundamental rights online. Her presentation drew on her 2019 book, Future Histories, which looks at radical social movements and theorists from history and applies them in service of a more democratic digital tomorrow. Between the event and on-demand streaming, the keynote has been watched over 600 times.

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