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UNU to Co-chair Higher Education Sustainability Initiative in 2024–2025

The upcoming HESI Global Forum will spotlight the transformational role of higher education in advancing sustainability.

The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI), launched in the lead-up to the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 as an open partnership between several United Nations entities and the higher education community, aims to enhance the role of the higher education sector in advancing sustainable development by facilitating multi-stakeholder discussions, actions, and the dissemination of best practices.

In 2024–2025, the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO IESALC) and the United Nations University (UNU) have joined the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and Sulitest Association — a non-profit organization and online platform aimed at improving sustainability literacy for all — to co-chair HESI, aiming to expand the scope and diversity of HESI outreach and activities.

HESI works with other UN partners, including the UN Environment Programme, the UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative, UN-HABITAT, UNCTAD, UNITAR, the UN Office for Partnerships, and UN Academic Impact. Together with hundreds of university networks, student organizations, and higher education institutions they collectively form the HESI Community. Up until March 2024, the HESI Community has welcomed 862 members, representing Africa, Asia and Pacific, Arab States, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Each year, HESI organizes a global forum as a special event of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development — the main UN platform for global follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — to highlight the critical role of higher education in achieving sustainable development.

Organized by UN DESA, UNESCO IESALC, UNU, and Sulitest, the 2024 HESI Global Forum, taking place in New York in July, will spotlight the transformational role of higher education in advancing sustainability in the era of innovation and emerging technologies under the theme “The Future of Higher Education for Sustainable Development”. The forum will especially align with SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 13 (climate Action), SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), and SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals) which are all under review in 2024.  

Each year, HESI also designates action groups to tackle topics related to higher education for sustainable development. Action groups draw upon the full HESI community to carry out their work and are often composed of several organizations and contributors. 

To follow HESI events, webinars, actions groups, and other related activities, or to learn how to join the HESI Community, please visit the HESI website.

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