UN Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all 193 Members States of the United Nations. The 2030 Agenda aims to deliver a more sustainable, prosperous and peaceful future, and sets out a framework for how to achieve this by 2030.

The framework, which builds on Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals, is made up of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) covering the social, economic and environmental requirements for a sustainable future. The SDGs apply equally to every country, and are based on the idea that ending poverty, protecting the environment and strengthening human rights are mutually beneficial, reliant on each other for success, and cannot be achieved separately.

UCD and the Global Goals

UCD has a history of engagement and involvement with the Goals. Patrick Paul Walsh, Professor of International Development Studies at UCD, legally represented thousands of universities in the formation of these goals through eight months of UN Inter-Governmental negotiations as a member of the UN Major Group for Science and Technology. Through his research and science policy interface with the UN system, Professor Walsh enabled the underpinning role of academia and the role of science and technology in the development of the SDGs and their subsequent implementation.

As a result of his advocation in the negotiations the term “academia”is firmly in the key definition of the multi stakeholders partnership in the final UN SDG document and most importantly in paragraph 52, which is central to the partnership on implementation. UCD now has special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council as a Non-Governmental Actor which provides UCD researchers with an ongoing pathway to influence global public policy with their research.

In 2021, UCD was ranked number 22 in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, an increase of 12 places compared to 2020. These rankings highlight universities that are best achieving the realisation of the SDGs by evaluating their performance against the indicators for each goal in respect of activities including research, education, outreach, and stewardship.

Following a project to map the University’s activities against the UN Sustainable Development Goals completed in 2019, UCD has committed itself in its new strategy, Rising to the Future 2020-24, to ‘Creating a Sustainable Global Society’ as the first of four strategic themes. 

Earth Institute: promoting engagment with the SDGs

The UCD Earth Institute places the SDGs at the heart of its activities. On our membership directory, you can find how the research of each of our members links to individual Goals.

Over the course of 2019, one of the Institute's flagship activities was the UCD Sustainable Development Goal Seminar Series. The series sought to highlight how groundbreaking work led by UCD researchers and colleagues from academia, government, industry and the charitable sector is contributing to SDG targets in Ireland and further afield.

Tackling each Goal in turn, we welcomed over seventy speakers, raising awareness of the SDGs, the important work going on in UCD, as well as identifying areas for future research and collaboration.

United Nations Academic Impact

In summer 2021, UCD joined United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), a global initiative working to align higher education institutions with the goals and mandates of the UN. With over 1,400 member institutions across 147 countries, the group aims to encourage universities to address global challenges through teaching and research and to act as incubators for new ideas and solutions to achieving the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals provide a common framework for global action on sustainability, with a focus on major issues such as climate change, quality education, gender equality, and an end to poverty and hunger worldwide.