UP is 'positioned well to respond the SDGs'

Posted on May 29, 2018

During the second lecture of the University of Pretoria’s Sustainable Development Goals Lecture (SDG) Series, Prof Willem Fourie, co-ordinator of the South African SDG Hub, argued that the University is positioned well to respond to the SDGs – both in an indirect and direct manner.

Furthermore, he indicated that partnerships with other universities and research institutions are key to developing effective and ultimately transformative responses to the SDGs.

Prof Fourie is an associate professor at UP’s Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership and co-ordinates the South African SDG Hub (www.SASDGHub.org) and the interdisciplinary master’s degree in Development Practice. He has contributed to the development of initiatives co-ordinated by the African Union’s NEPAD Agency, often within the ambit of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, since 2012.

His lecture Achieving the SDGs in South Africa: On the role of universities was presented on the Hatfield campus as part of the University’s SDG Lecture Series, which focuses on UP’s research activities aligned with the global priorities for sustainable development, as defined by the UN SDGs.

In his discussion, Prof Fourie noted some criticism of the SDGs. He highlighted questions on the unique value-add of the SDGs, their relationship with existing national development priorities, the danger of aid conditionality, and the feasibility of implementing the extensive list of goals in least-developed countries.

He explained that this did not mean that the SDGs were flawed, as they have the potential to ‘accelerate progress’ and the potential to fast forward existing trajectories of transformation. According to Prof Fourie’s analysis, they are useful, and potentially transformational, in at least five respects: ‘The SDGs sketch a moral vision in which the most vulnerable should be helped first, they prioritise partnerships, acknowledge the complexity of development, require innovation and creativity and provide a shared vocabulary.’

Prof Stephanie Burton, UP Vice-Principal for Research and Postgraduate Education, explained that in many ways the SDGs represented the global community’s most ambitious set of development priorities yet. For the first time, both developing and developed countries and other societal actors have committed themselves to the achievement of the same set of goals. The UP SDG Lecture Series is intended to serve as a basis for reflecting on the role of universities in realising the SDGs in South Africa.


- Author Myan Subrayan

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