22 September 2019, New York, USA – The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in collaboration with member institutions launched a university global coalition which was hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation, New York. Ahead of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Executive Director of UNITAR, Mr. Nikhil Seth, joined higher institution stakeholders to mark this momentous event.
The coalition is “a collaborative platform of globally engaged universities and higher education associations working in partnership with the United Nations and other stakeholders to create a more sustainable future for all.” Some of the founding member schools represented include the Yonsei University, Georgia Institute of Technology, George Mason University and McGill University. At the event, Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke of the necessity to think beyond personal comforts, remembering that several people in other parts of the world are being negatively impacted by the harsh realities of this world. He reminded attendees of the collective responsibility to teach students about the 17 SDG Goals, thus become aware of solutions and have hope for the future.
Mr. Seth commended the leaders of institutions who chose to partner with the UN and UNITAR in promoting the realization of SDG goals through institutions of learning. He expressed optimism that their efforts would yield positive results and encourage eager participation by other institutions worldwide. Other speakers at the event included the President of the Rockefeller Foundation, Mr. Rajiv J. Shah; President of Yonsei University Mr. Yong Hak Kim; President & CEO, The United Nations Foundation, Ms. Kathy Calvin; President of Georgia Institute of Technology, Mr. Angel Cabrera and President of George Mason University, Ms. Ann Holton
Adopted unanimously by world leaders in September 2015 to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the main objectives include:
- Increasing students’ understanding of the most pressing challenges facing the world today, as articulated in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and inspiring students to play an active role in driving change and finding new solutions
- Developing the global competence and leadership skills students need to effectively collaborate across cultural and national boundaries and across disciplines and sectors in creating a more sustainable future
- Engaging in actionable research, knowledge sharing, and innovation in collaboration with local and international organizations in pursuit of novel approaches to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
- Engaging with private and public actors in leading, guiding and supporting local, national and global responses to the Sustainable Development Goals
Additional objectives include recognizing the impact that each member’s own operations have on important sustainable development issues and acting responsibly to address them and serve as an example to others as well as communicating publicly the group’s progress and being accountable for outcomes.
Several other leaders of higher education institutions and representatives of non-profit organizations were present. Following the positive remarks by other speakers, the Rockefeller Foundation treated attendees to a remarkable cocktail reception