Toronto, Canada, 31 May 2021As a leader in the effort to build a more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable world, York University and UNITAR are proud to announce the establishment of Canada’s first Centre International de Formation des Acteurs Locaux (CIFAL).

CIFAL centres provide innovative training throughout the world and serve as hubs for the exchange of knowledge among government officials, the private sector, academia, and civil society.

York Region was selected as the new home of this global initiative. York’s Markham Centre Campus will be the proud home of CIFAL York when it is open and operational. This new partnership with UNITAR recognizes York’s leadership in advancing fundamental and applied research, innovation, and ability to work across traditional boundaries in pioneering new approaches that will help meet society’s most urgent demands.

CIFAL York will be uniquely positioned to help achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals around emergency and disaster management, diversity and inclusion, economic development, health, and entrepreneurship. The new centre will be a catalyst for positive change and extend York’s global reach that already includes more than 300 university, industry, and NGO partners in over 70 countries.

In addition, CIFAL York will provide a platform for dialogue and a forum for the development of new ideas by providing public servants, decision-makers, and academics in the Western Hemisphere learning opportunities that facilitate knowledge sharing and improve decision-making processes.

“The world is facing complex global problems — from the climate crisis to inequality to rapid technological change to the pandemic — that call for collaboration across sectors and across countries to solve,” said Rhonda Lenton, President & Vice-Chancellor of York University. “The creation of this CIFAL Centre, in partnership with UNITAR, will enable us to bring leaders from governments, not-for-profits, and industry together with researchers and educators to share experiences and expertise, and to train new generations of global leaders. We are proud to host CIFAL York as part of our commitment to building a healthier and more just, sustainable, and prosperous world.”

“York University’s outsized reputation made it an obvious choice when the United Nations, through UNITAR, started thinking of partnering with an academic institution in Canada to share knowledge and best practices. I count academic institutions as one of UNITAR’s most indispensable allies, without whom we cannot hope to achieve the 2030 Agenda,” highlighted Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of UNITAR.

York is also pleased to announce that Professor Ali Asgary has agreed to become the new Director of CIFAL York. In collaboration with the Associate Director, Idil Boran, the important work of establishing strategic partnerships to advance the vision will begin June 1, 2021 in temporary offices at York’s Keele campus. 

CIFAL York is one of 22 training centres for government authorities around the world and will facilitate face-to-face or online training activities such as seminars, courses, national, and international events. It will also seek to empower local, regional, and international authorities to promote intersectoral partnership and cooperation and improve the well-being of their citizens. Since its inception in 2003, the CIFAL network has reached more than 30,000 beneficiaries through over 400 learning events.


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