At the Rio+20 Summit a decade ago, the UN member states launched a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to put the world on the path to sustainable development that combines economic wellbeing, social justice, and environmental sustainability. We are now in the midst of the great global effort to create a global path to sustainable development that “leaves no one behind.”
Universities and knowledge institutions have an essential role to play in meeting this great challenge. Through cutting-edge research, they provide much of the new knowledge and innovation that is needed. Through their educational activities, they provide future leaders with the skills needed to understand and implement sustainable development. As trusted institutions committed to inclusion, truth, and social justice, universities are uniquely placed to help convene all stakeholders to work together to solve the pressing problems of the age.
SDSN was created by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Professor Jeffrey Sachs with this goal uppermost in mind: mobilize the world’s universities and knowledge institutions to play their historic role in the great transformation to sustainable development.
The first meeting of the Leadership Council of SDSN took place in New York in November 2012 with more than 70 top scientists and leaders from business, politics, and civil society in attendance. Ten years later, it is worth reflecting on the growing global role of the SDSN and its achievements.