Photo: UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown - Photo: 2021

The Role of Academia and Universities in Fostering Awareness of SDGs

Viewpoint by Dr. Kakha Shengelia

The writer is President of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) and President of Caucasus University (CU). The following is the text of Dr Kakha’s Foreword to Striving for People, Planet and Peace, 2021 Joint Media Project Report of the Non-Profit International Press Syndicate Group with IDN as flagship agency in partnership with Soka Gakkai International in consultative status with ECOSOC.

TBILISI, Georgia (IDN) — It was in the year 2015 when the world convened and defined 17 concrete objectives to achieve till 2030 that would improve everyone’s lot around the globe. Touching on every aspect of human existence, from social inequalities to the planet we live on.

But the realization that such common problems existed, the expertise required to define them and knowledge to plan for their resolution had been a result of centuries of work, realization and knowledge accumulation.

It has been that long in a historical sense when we could understand enough to realize the importance of sustainability, A pressing need to adjust our society in such a way as to care for both people and the environment we live in. A difficult, yet necessary act of our continual success as a species. It would not have been possible without what may be called the education industry—academics, universities and other knowledge centres around the world. From general, to very specific, there are many ways in which academia is involved in SDGs on a fundamental level.

The education industry, in its many forms, is responsible for training, researching and consolidating the technological and technical know-how required to operate the scientific and industrial apparatus the world over. This includes consolidation and analysis of data required for the evaluation of SDGs and development of scientific methods for their achievements through research universities and academia. In this context, I would like to further underline the importance of communication channels between the public and the universities.

Channels like IDN–InDepthNews, as the Flagship Agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate, providing a crucial platform for the flow of information between stakeholders since 2009. IDN is an important player of the industry, providing key service in this age of information. 

Furthermore, quite a few SDGs directly correspond to the education industry. Namely, “SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Quality of Education is a direct responsibility of the Educational Institutions throughout the world. Both private and governmental institutions strive to deliver the best possible results day and night.

In later years, change had been building momentum with the advancement of E-education and online technologies driving down the cost of learning and dramatically increasing the accessibility of knowledge the world over. While some countries had been slower than others in adopting e-learning, the Covid-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated what the future of education is going to be. The education industry has been one of the few to be able to function under this duress thanks to the online teaching methods, seeing many universities and educational centres adopt it at breakneck speed.

Beyond SDG 4, for which the education industry is directly responsible, the other SDGs also involve education in one measure or another. As formalized education has become an ubiquitous feature of our everyday lives the world over, the provision of information, skills and know-how has become a responsibility of schools and universities. Not to forget, often universities and academics also cooperate with industry and statistical agencies, monitoring SDG development and designing the ways to achieve them. For example:

SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages directly depends on healthcare education and the medical college industry. The education of doctors and nurses, as well as a significant part of research and development rests on the shoulders of medical universities and academics.

SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all draws from innovations and developments in engineering and technology, as well as specialized water management education courses.

SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’ draws from the fields of electrical engineering, chemistry, physics and other fields of science both toughed and researched at universities.

SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. While business universities have become a backbone for developing countries, like Caucasus School of Business in post-soviet Georgia, innovative business incubators like C10 incubator at the CU foster new ideas and young entrepreneurs.

SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation directly depends on Architectural and Engineering education for the correct design and technologies used. Not to mention the byzantine supply chain and construction work managed by university trained professionals.

SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns which is ensured through correct supply chain designs, environmental research and numerous agricultural, ecology, business and engineering universities that conduct appropriate research and train professionals.

SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Climate Change measurement and monitoring in large part depend on the research universities and academics from around the globe. 

SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels relates among others to a direct responsibility of the Law schools and colleges, Governance universities and peace centres, all of which we host at the CU, to maintain and develop.

In conclusion, universities and academia hold a crucial role in achieving SDGs globally. Whatever the goals may be, it depends on education and research to have reliable information and trained professionals. Universities are the lifeblood of knowledge industry and bedrock on which any intellectual labour base rests. Not to mention the titanic, yet often underappreciated task of raising awareness and directing the attention of youth undertaking by the Universities and Colleges the world over.  [IDN-InDepthNews – 09 June 2021]

Photo: Dr. Kakha Shengelia, President of IAUP and Caucasus University.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. You are free to share, remix, tweak and build upon it non-commercially. Please give due credit.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top