Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

April 19, 2021

The world today is going through highly interdependent and complex social, economic, technological and ecological changes, which are the result of past, present and future trends. The five dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, the so-called “5 P’s”: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships are key in rethinking education on a changing planet. Therefore, public, public-private and civil society partnerships for sustainable development are necessary to mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources.

At the present, many higher education institutions tend to ‘embellish and serve’ sustainability precepts, rather than challenge or fully implement them. Although, the ultimate purpose of academic teaching programs orientated around ‘sustainability’ is to support the practical attainment of a sustainable future for industry, business and society.

Organisations, and leaders within them, need to adapt and adopt a partnership based approach to meet the challenges of the SDGs.  Universities are at the heart of local, regional, national and international eco-systems and I believe as educators we are responsible for equipping the current and next generation of sustainability leaders with the knowledge and skills required to support and champion collaborative approaches to solve the sustainable development crisis.

Introducing new ways of teaching and learning that blend disciplinary approaches as well as strengthening partnerships between higher education, business and other stakeholders in society.  To fully prepare students to work in the green economy and be the creators and innovators of more sustainable solutions, higher education institutions need to transform their governance systems to fully endorse sustainability principles and practices. This includes signing up to the SDGs and to making SMART commitments towards achieving them.

Revisiting the core functions of teaching and research through the lens of SDG 17 will mean building engaged teaching partnerships with international and local stakeholders. Teaching and research of all subjects becomes more engaged with real world, society-at-large, and not merely in classroom. Innovative pedagogical tools can be adapted so that students learn about locally distinctive aspects sustainability. If mutually beneficial partnerships with local communities and institutions, business, government, civil society is built, teaching and research becomes supportive of new knowledge and its use to meet the global challenge. Further, structured and regular interactions with international stakeholders can generate research questions that have relevance for the innovation necessary to achieve the SDGs. In essence, well thought out and calculated partnerships increase the chances of making a positive impact on the sustainability of the economy and society.

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