‘Sustainable development is embedded in UP’s strategic goals’ – UP Executive advisor at United Nations Academic Impact event

Posted on March 15, 2022

Dr Brian Chicksen, Advisor to the Executive at the University of Pretoria (UP), recently featured as a speaker at the United Nations Academic Impact’s (UNAI) third Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) workshop.

The webinar, titled ‘SDGs Off-Campus: Engaging with the Community’, centred on learning more about how universities can collaborate effectively with community organisations. More than 300 attendees from around world were part of the virtual workshop.

The UNAI developed this series of capacity-building workshops for universities and colleges around the world to provide training and enhance skills related to implementing the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while fostering the involvement of higher education institutions as valuable stakeholders to achieve the SDGs. The recent workshop showcased how universities and colleges provide assistance to and collaborate with civil society groups and a wide range of local stakeholders to advance the SDGs. This is done by way of innovative ideas, projects and solutions that combine academic knowledge and resources with those of communities.

Speaking to how UP engages SGDs off-campus, Dr Chicksen said: “The University of Pretoria does not have a stand-alone sustainable development strategy; however, sustainable development is integrated and hardwired into the University strategy. Sustainable development is embedded in our strategic goals – our set of guidance principles where we are seeking transformation approaches, collaborating and applying transdisciplinary approaches.”

“Engagement is embedded in the curriculum through our joint community-based projects. In 2019, more than 2 900 undergraduate students were involved in curricular engagement projects. The University also hosts the Sustainable Development Solutions Network in South Africa under the auspices of the United Nations.”

Laurel Patterson, Head of Sustainable Development Goals Integration at the UN Development Programme, highlighted the 2030 SDG agenda in relation to COVID-19. “COVID-19 is set to reverse human development for the first time in 30 years,” she said. “Unprecedented set-backs require new types of solutions, orientated around systems and portfolio changes. The United Nations Development Plan’s SDG integration mandate supports countries and UN partners to transform systems and drive future-forward policy options to accelerate SDG progress.”

Watch the event:

- Author Mecayla Maseka
Published by Hlengiwe Mnguni

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