With the world halfway to the 2030 target date for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations this week urged governments globally to create solid national SDG policy and greater spending commitments. But the key roles of universities in advancing sustainability continue to be underplayed.
A political declaration – including commitments impacting upon higher education and research – was approved at the 2023 UN SDG Summit, held in New York on 18 to 19 September to mark the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress towards achieving the SDGs.
A UN report on transforming education, released at the summit, said progress towards education-related SDG targets, which include the SDG 4 on education was significantly off track.
The political declaration committed the UN’s 193 member states to “continue increasing investment in inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
This included digital education, education for sustainable development, skills enhancement, affordable higher education and vocational training, plus teachers’ continuing professional development. Governments committed themselves to reducing barriers to girls’ education, and gender and disability gaps.
On science, member states said they would help developing countries benefit more from science, technology and innovation by promoting access to open science, affordable and open source technology and research and development, and looking to better realise the benefits of artificial intelligence, while addressing its challenges.
Two days ahead of the UN SDG Summit, the G77 – the Group of 77 developing countries – at a G77+China summit held in Cuba, called on the international community to support a more open, fair, inclusive and non-discriminatory environment for the development of science, technology and innovation in order to accelerate progress in achieving the SDGs.