Over 350 leaders of institutions of higher education in 85 countries assembled in Bangkok November 13-16, 2016 to examine how to contribute to the achievement of Agenda 2030’s sustainable development goals. Victoria W. Thoresen was invited to make a presentation about the work PERL/UNITWIN has done.
Organized by the International Association of Universities, the conference shared examples of initiatives already taken and plans for the future.
“In a world marked by deep and rapid change and an urgent need to find solutions to major global challenges in every sector, still too often, many argue that universities are conservative institutions, slow to respond, isolated from communities and society. IAU argues, and seeks to demonstrate that, on the contrary, they often act as catalysts for innovation, for transforming society so that it fully embraces sustainability imperatives. Higher education institutions (HEIs), whose primary functions are higher education and research, are essential social institutions. Their efforts to generate knowledge and instill attitudes to bring about a better future need to be strengthened, showcased and supported.
2016 is the first year of the new global development agenda, and the start of the countdown to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals. As never before, the world’s leaders, international and national non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, youth groups and citizens have articulated the framework for a better world and their hopes for achieving it. Representatives of HEIs and organizations, including IAU, have been among the advocates for more concerted action.
The IAU has been at the forefront of this advocacy and documents how HEIs improve lives and livelihoods while not sacrificing the sustainability of the environment. It has showcased university actions that: - promote learning from diverse cultures; promote fundamental universal values ; question and critically examine current economic and consumption models and cultural practices; embed sustainable development considerations in research and in the curriculum; adopt considerations of sustainability in leadership practices and underline social responsibility locally and globally in outreach at home and in their international partnerships.” (IAU2016)