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Posted: 09 May 2008

UCD joins 21 of the world’s leading universities towards the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals

President Mary McAleese addressed a major international conference at UCD which brought together Presidents and senior academics from 22 of the world’s leading universities to discuss how universities can partner with governments and NGOs to assist the developing world.

“The institutions you represent, individually and collectively, constitute a massive intellectual and experiential resource,” President McAleese told the conference delegates. “The leverage you have is considerable and positions you well to assume a leadership role as the principal instigators and coordinators of a new type of international development partnership, bringing together key stakeholders such as government agencies, funding bodies, corporate partners, charities and faith-based organisations.”

Pictured far right: President of Ireland, Mary McAleese speaking at the Universitas 21 symposium - Strategic Partnerships with the Developing World

The conference, which took place on Thursday 08 May 2008, was the main focus of the AGM of the prestigious Universitas 21 (U21) network of research universities which University College Dublin was invited to join two years ago.

“The 14 countries represented in the Universitas 21 Network together account for some 58 per cent of the world's international overseas development assistance,” said President McAleese. “Your initiative will help to ensure that these funds are spent wisely, sustainably and coherently.”

The UN Millennium Declaration marked a commitment by world leaders to work together towards a series of Millennium Development Goals in the fight against poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination.

A recent review suggested that the Millennium Goals will only be reached by the target date of 2015 if government agencies, NGOs, universities, private sector companies and faith organisations work more closely together in enhanced partnerships with the developing world.

“Universitas 21 provides a unique platform for the 22 member universities to develop and enhance strategic partnerships with the developing world,” said UCD President, Dr Hugh Brady.

President of Ireland, Mary McAleese (centre-right) and President of UCD, Dr Hugh Brady (centre-left) pictured with Universitas 21 conference delegates

“Through co-operation, U21 has an unprecedented opportunity to tackle global research projects in key priority areas like HIV/AIDS, food security, water and sanitation,” he said. “And the scale and geographical spread of the network gives U21 the very real potential to influence coherence in global policy making.  This should lead to more, faster and better development.”

At the Universitas 21 Symposium, UCD announced plans to establish the UCD International Development Initiative which will increase the university’s capacity to support research, education, partnership and outreach in the development arena.

Through the initiative, UCD will strengthen its existing strategic partnerships with universities in the developing world including the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and the University of Malawi. The university plans to use the Initiative to mainstream development education into the new UCD Horizons undergraduate curriculum with the goal of increasing ‘development consciousness’ among its Irish graduates. In addition, UCD will grant ‘academic credits’ to students who complete volunteer work in Africa. The initiative will also establish a digital hub to store and communicate research outcomes, educational materials, and public policy documents on development issues to members of the Universitas 21 network, governments and policy makers.


Universitas 21

Universitas 21 was founded in 1997 as a network for international higher education, bringing together a collection of some of the leading research-led universities around the world.

Since then, Universitas 21 has evolved into an internationally recognised partnership, which strives to facilitate collaboration and co-operation between the member universities, creating entrepreneurial opportunities on a scale that no member would be able to achieve operating independently or through traditional bilateral alliances.

Universitas 21 comprises the following members: University of Auckland, University of Birmingham, University of British Columbia, University of Delhi, University College Dublin, University of Edinburgh, Fudan University, University of Hong Kong, Korea University, McGill University, University of Glasgow, Lund University, University of Melbourne, Tecnológico de Monterrey, University of New South Wales, University of Nottingham, University of Peking, University of Queensland, Shanghai Jai Tong University, National University of Singapore, University of Virginia, Waseda University.



UN Millennium Development Goals

“We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected. We are committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want” (The United Nations Millennium Declaration, 2000).

The United Nations Millennium Declaration marked a commitment by world leaders to place development at the centre of the global agenda in the new millennium. As a measure of this commitment developed and developing nations alike agreed to a series of Millennium Development Goals, which if achieved, will seriously reduce poverty and promote development by 2015. The eight Millennium Development Goals bind the international community to join forces in the fight against poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination.

The eight goals are: eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development

>> goals/


Universitas 21 Symposium,
Strategic Partnerships with the Developing World: A New Direction for Universitas 21 in Research and Education

University College Dublin, 08 May 2008

Professor Charles van der Horst, Professor of Medicine and Infections Disease at the University of North Carolina and Dr Glenn Denning, Director of the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, led the opening session entitled: Major Development Issues: Can universities and their networks make a difference?

Dr Michael Edwards, Director, Governance and Civil Society Program, Ford Foundation and Professor Jimmy Whitworth, Head of International Activities, Wellcome Trust, led the following session entitled: Collaboration with Developing Countries in Research and Education: The world through the eyes of the major international funding bodies.

The closing session, The New Global Citizen: Producing graduates for the next stage of global development, was led by Professor Partha Sen, University of Delhi and Professor Rwekaza Mukandala, University of Dar es Salaam.

Irish Aid, the Irish government’s programme of assistance for developing countries, hosted a closing reception which was attended by leading academics in issues of global ethics, sustainability and development who attended the U21 symposium.

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President of Ireland, Mary McAleese speaking at the Universitas21 symposium - Strategic Partnerships with the Developing World