The University of Calgary – SDG Awards 2017

In this SDG Awards 2017 entry:

SDG Action

The University of Calgary is committed to help achieve the following SDGs:

  • SDG 1: No Poverty
  • SDG 2: Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
  • SDG 5: Gender Equality
  • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

As a public institution, the University of Calgary (UCalgary) is committed to support the mandate of the Government of Canada in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030. Through a community centered and participatory approach, UCalgary seeks to leverage its unique position to bring together various stakeholders to collaborate, addressing global challenges in a sustainable way.

UCalgary uses its Institutional Sustainability Strategy (2016-2021) to advance all aspects of sustainability (environmental, economic, social and wellness). The strategy weaves sustainability through how we teach, research, engage with our community and operate on a day-to-day basis. In addition, our International Strategy supports the connection to outside organizations and governments in helping to address the sustainable development challenges faced internationally.

UCalgary is uniquely positioned to support global advancement toward each of the UN SGDs in two key ways, specifically by:
1) Carrying out leading edge research in the area of sustainable development
2) Building the capacity of our graduates through education, so they gain the skills and competencies necessary to effectively address global challenges

The university’s academic and research plans both focus on sustainability. Currently there are more than 350 sustainability courses taught to students and an Embedded Certificate in Sustainability Studies is offered for almost all undergraduate students to earn in addition to their degree. As a result, last year, more than half of UCalgary’s graduates had taken at least one course in sustainability by the time they graduated. As graduates set out on their careers, their knowledge and experience from UCalgary will benefit industry in supporting the SDGs. In addition, more than one third of UCalgary’s researchers are conducting research on sustainability. In recognition of our commitment to sustainability we were awarded a Gold rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, measured using its Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System.

As an organization focused on research, teaching and learning, the university leverages its unique position to bring together and disseminate information to various stakeholders in local, national and global communities involved in achieving the SDGs. As an internationally focused organization, UCalgary has become a platform for policy makers, industry, academics, civil society and students to come together to tackle complex global challenges.

SDG Impact

SDG 1 – No Poverty: Students contributed a total of 1,631,688 hours of community service last year.

SDG 2 – Zero Hunger: In early 2017, UCalgary hosted students from the Global Challenges course, business leaders, industry experts, academics and community members to discuss the big ideas that could contribute to the future of food, specifically how Alberta can respond to the global challenge of feeding nine billion people by the year 2050.

SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being: UCalgary raises awareness about health and well-being (using guest speakers, story circles and yoga classes), provides tools for personal resiliency and early identification. Direct services are also provided for the campus community of almost 40,000.

SDG 4/16 – Quality Education/Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: UCalgary’s bursary program awards over 900 bursaries. Last year, 16.3% of students entering UCalgary were from low-income backgrounds; they have graduation success rate of 83.4%

SDG 5 – Gender Equality: UCalgary was recently selected as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers (2017). Some of the reasons the award was received included the presence on campus of:
1) The Native Centre that provides academic, personal and cultural support services to prospective and current First Nations, Métis and Inuit students.
2) The Q Centre for sexual and gender diversity
3) The Institute for Gender Research
4) The Women’s Resource Centre

SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation: In partnership with municipal government, UCalgary is working to combat the lack of worldwide drinking water by advancing wastewater treatment technologies through their Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA) system. With 3.8 kilometres of naturalized streams, scientific experts in ecology, biology, toxicology, microbiology, process engineering, medicine and public health – along with municipalities and industrial partners – are working to ensure clean drinking water for the planet. Additionally, we have reduced potable water use per student on our own campus by 28% since 2008.

SDG 9/13 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure/Climate Action: By updating our technology on campus and additionally certifying all new buildings to a LEED Gold standard or greater, we have reduced our emissions per student by 37% since 2008. This creates a learning and research environment that demonstrates a commitment to innovation and climate.

SDG 17 – Partnership for Goals: 80.3% of departments conducting research and more than one-third of researchers are engaged in sustainability research. Examples of the how UCalgary faculty members are using research to address complex global challenges include:

  • South American focused topics such as ground water and access to drinking water, urban planning and development, conservation, disaster management
  • Maternal and child health, One Health (human, environment and animal), infectious diseases in African countries
  • Education and capacity building, civil engineering, disaster risk resilience in Asia

UCalgary was the winner of the 2016 Canadian Bureau for International Education Award for Comprehensive Internationalization. The award recognized the launch of two Global Research Sites, funding secured for international development, the development of collaborative degree models and commitments to enhance the international learning experience.

Future Plans

The Institutional Sustainability Strategy will continue to be implemented and UCalgary will also continue to partner with local organizations and industry to work toward the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.

UCalgary will continue to advance its International Strategy. By working with other universities, governments and organizations worldwide to develop international relations, partnerships and development projects, UCalgary will work to expand its portfolio of international development projects. The current project portfolio, worth more than $18 million, directly addresses issues facing developing countries.

UCalgary is in the process of developing an Indigenous Strategy. In March 2016, the University’s Indigenous Strategy Task Force was called together to develop a strategy. Through the Strategy, the university is committed to creating a rich, vibrant and culturally competent campus – one that welcomes and supports Indigenous learners, is inclusive of Indigenous perspectives in teaching and learning, encourages Indigenous community partnerships in research and academic programming and is appropriate and thoughtful in its response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s ‘Calls to Action’.

SDG Partnerships

The University of Calgary as an educational institution work in partnership with stakeholders including government, industry and civil society. It recognizes that in order to achieve the SDGs by 2030, there needs to be a consolidated and strategic effort bringing together society as a whole. In 2018, the University of Calgary will continue to remain committed to the SDG mandate through:

  • Incorporate SDGs themes in its curriculum
  • Event focused on the SDGs to disseminate information and knowledge and create awareness
  • Partner with organizations and link theory to practice
  • Support the government in its agendas

Supplementary Media & Documents