Queen’s University took a global stand for sustainable development goals at the UN summit last week.
Queen’s representatives travelled to New York City to represent the University at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Action Weekend at the United Nations Headquarters from Sept. 18 to 19.
Heather Aldersey, special advisor to the principal (sustainable development goals) attended the summit with AMS President Kate McCuaig and second-year PhD student in the Department of Environmental Studies Victor Odele. McCuaig and Odele are both student representatives on the Queen’s Principal’s SDG Council.
“Queen’s is an institution heavily committed to the local and global good, we use the UN SDGs to channel our sense of social responsibility, optimism, and belief in a better tomorrow,” Aldersey said in an interview with The Journal.
The University was invited to join the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) delegation as part of the weekend at the United Nations Headquarters.
At the UN summit, world leaders assessed the progress of the 17 SDGs and provided guidance on how to achieve the SDGs by the target year 2030. The SDGs were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as calls to action for all countries to end poverty, protect the planet, and promote peace.
“It’s a desired, ideal future. The goals give us a common language to talk about how we want to get there. We’re at the halfway point of the Sustainable Development Goals, between now and 2030,” Aldersey said.
Government representatives and academics felt compelled to address global goals over the weekend. The sense of urgency was centred on the current rate of progress, which, if maintained, would result in only 15 per cent of the goals being met by 2030.
Aldersey hopes the Queen’s student body will push for and incorporate the SDGs into their lives, contributing to the global effort to meet the 2030 target.
“I’m so energized by the Queen’s student body to think about how you all are going to take these goals and really push us to have the impact that we need to see by 2030,” Aldersey added.
Working in collaboration with Aldersey, the AMS introduced SDG tagging on all AMS sanctioned events. The change required every club select the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that best align with their event when filling out event sanctioning forms.
“We want to make sure that with our forms and those kinds of guides, we see what students are interested in and where it needs more work and less. We’re able to collect that data, which reflects that we are worried about what our students are most interested in,” McCuaig said in an interview with The Journal.
McCuaig explained that while there’s a call for action, students from all corners of the globe are actively addressing this demand for action.
Through the PhD Community Initiative program, Odele worked with the City of Kingston to develop approaches for the city to incorporate and localize SDGs into the City’s strategic planning.
“We want to encourage students to, as much as possible, try to learn more about SDGs, be more aware of what the SDGs are all about and find ways to contribute. No matter how little you’re contributing to something it is important in sustaining the world we live in,” Odele said in an interview with The Journal.
While Queen’s is dreaming big, Aldersey and the Principal’s SDG Committee recognized every step is a beneficial step, no matter the size.
“I think the Global Goals are good, but it’s also taking a bit of a micro perspective and saying, are we making the planet on which we live a better place for future generations?” Aldersey said.
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