On 28 August 2020, the UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) held an online symposium to launch the UNU SDG–University Platform (SDG–UP). Over 500 people joined the symposium. The discussion among panelists — leading experts from the private sector, local government, and academia — focused on strengthening collaboration between universities in Japan and international organisations on contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The UNU SDG–University Platform is supported by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The online event was organised by UNU-IAS in cooperation with Toyo Keizai Inc. and Wave LTD group.
In opening remarks UNU Rector David Malone and MEXT official Naoki Himiya (Director, International Affairs Division, Minister’s Secretariat) commended the collaborative initiative and expressed their expectation that it would offer opportunities for active discussions on the SDGs.
In her keynote speech, UNU-IAS Director Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi stressed that universities must take the lead in changing individual behaviour to realise a more resilient society, and that it is up to individuals to take actions to ensure a more sustainable future for all. She highlighted that SDG–UP is designed to respect the diversity of participating universities and will create a platform for dialogue regarding challenges when promoting the SDGs as well as activities and achievements of its partners.
Takatsugu Kitajima (Secretariat Head, SDG–UP) introduced the “Times Higher Education Impact Rankings”, a ranking index that evaluates SDG-related activities conducted by universities on a global level. He stated that SDG-UP plans to analyse this index and present its own opinions regarding the evaluation criteria.
A panel discussion introduced the significance of Japanese universities striving to achieve targets under the SDGs, outlined what the private sector and local government should expect from universities’ activities to achieve the SDGs, and discussed the contributions and actions by universities for positive change within their societies. Panelists included representatives from the University of Tokyo, Sophia University, the University of Kitakyushu, MEXT, Recruit Holdings Co., Kyoto City government, and UNU.
UNU-IAS Director Yamaguchi used her closing remarks to summarise the session highlights, and stated that the platform is expected to contribute to strengthening strategic partnerships and boost engagement between stakeholders and universities in order to become more solution focused.
For more, see the original news story on the UNU-IAS website.