Victoria leads in commitment to Sustainable Development Goals

Victoria University of Wellington has become the first New Zealand university to sign up to a new international initiative known as the University Commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The commitment is an initiative of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Australia/Pacific to showcase the leadership role that universities can play in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs, agreed by all UN member countries in 2015, aim to tackle poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, protect the environment and address climate change, and encourage good governance and peace and security.

Victoria joins eight Australia universities as a signatory to the commitment. The universities agree to a number of measures, including undertaking research into sustainable development challenges and providing opportunities for students to learn about sustainable development.

“I am proud that Victoria is the first New Zealand university to pledge its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford.

“As a world-leading capital city and global civic university, Victoria has much to contribute to this societal conversation. We are committed to building a sustainability culture across the University through leadership, research, teaching, our wider public engagement and in how we operate.”

Associate Professor Marjan van den Belt, who joined Victoria last year in the new role of Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability), says the commitment is significant. “While our Government has signed New Zealand up to the SDGs, it is important for business and civil society to also recognise the opportunity provided by the SDG lens to work together.

The SDG framework gives us a 13-year Agenda—through to 2030—which we can get behind, as a University and as individuals, to bring about change.”

Associate Professor van den Belt is a speaker at the United Nations Association of New Zealand annual conference in Wellington next week, which has a theme of sustainable development.