Georgia Tech Introduces Long-Term Initiative to Advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
President Ángel Cabrera addresses administrators and faculty members from universities around the world at Rutgers University-Newark on Sept. 23, 2019, during the University Global Coalition's (UGC) 17 Rooms-U event. The event was hosted in partnership with the United Nations to promote its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which Georgia Tech is working to implement throughout the Institute's teaching, research, and operations. (Photo courtesy of Rutgers Business School.)
To advance Georgia Tech’s new mission and strategic plan, the Institute is launching a campuswide sustainability effort to enhance Tech’s teaching, research, and operations. The long-term initiative will begin with two virtual events and a collaborative online activity during the Fall 2020 semester.
Soon after his investiture last fall, President Ángel Cabrera charged leaders and units throughout campus with spearheading a project that would promote, implement, and advance the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at Georgia Tech. Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs are designed to address the world’s most pressing challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, and peace and justice.
Featuring objectives such as “Affordable and Clean Energy,” “Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure,” and “Sustainable Cities and Communities,” the SDGs appear by name in Tech’s new strategic plan and align with the Institute’s areas of expertise as well as its mission to develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition.
“Representing some of the most consequential and complex problems we face as a species, the SDGs range from health and hunger to gender equality and ocean biodiversity,” said President Cabrera. “They are not nice-to-haves; they are essential for the long-term sustainability of life and human development on our planet.”
The new sustainability initiative stems in part from Tech’s affiliation with the University Global Coalition (UGC), which President Cabrera chairs and helped found. Established in 2019, the UGC comprises a group of higher education leaders from across the globe who work together to advance the SDGs through education, research, service, and campus operations.
Fall 2020 Programming
Events and activities planned for the Fall 2020 semester will focus on how Tech can use the SDGs as a framework to implement the new strategic plan, advance organizational innovation, unite the Institute’s broad spectrum of activities and responsibilities, strengthen Tech’s local and global collaborations, and address urgent challenges such as Covid-19 and racial injustice.
Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals at Georgia Tech
Thursday, September 10, 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Open to the public, the first event will feature a keynote address from President Cabrera and a panel discussion moderated by Anna Stenport, chair of the School of Modern Languages and co-director of the Atlanta Global Studies Center. Programming will focus on introducing the campus community to the SDGs, discussing their global importance and relevance to Tech, and demonstrating how the Institute can lead the region in implementing and advancing them.
SDG Asset Mapping
September 10 – 23
Following the kickoff event, the Institute community will be invited to participate in a collaborative online effort to identify SDG-related assets — such as places, programs, projects, organizations, and web-based resources — that Georgia Tech can leverage to lead higher education in working toward achieving the SDGs. This simple mapping activity will allow community members to create an initial list of SDG-related assets that will become the starting point of the third event, 17 Zooms.
Thursday, October 1, 9 a.m. – noon
A virtual version of the 17 Rooms event concept developed by The Brookings Institution and The Rockefeller Foundation, 17 Zooms aims to stimulate collective action toward implementing the SDGs. It works by convening 17 distinct groups of specialists to identify, in concert, high-impact objectives that can be met in 18 months.
17 Zooms will bring together select Georgia Tech faculty, staff, and students, as well as relevant off-campus partners, for small group discussions in 17 different Zoom sessions, one for each SDG. Participants in each group will work together to recommend projects related to their session’s SDG that link research, teaching, operations, and service. At the same time, attendees will learn about existing SDG-related work and connect with people from different backgrounds and disciplines.
After the event, leaders from each session will team up to identify several action items for Georgia Tech to implement over the following year and a half that will advance the SDGs and the strategic plan.
Learn More About Sustainability at Tech
For more details about these programs and Tech’s campuswide commitment to sustainability, visit SDGs at Tech.
The Fall 2020 SDG program committee comprises faculty and staff from the following units:
- Atlanta Global Studies Center
- Global Leadership LLC
- Impact LLC
- Institute Communications
- Institute Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Institute Relations
- Office of Campus Sustainability
- Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business
- RCE Greater Atlanta (officially acknowledged by United Nations University)
- Sustainability and Building Services