The SDG-iLevel project combines the expertise of six partner organizations from all over Europe. Emmanuel, you are representing the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (ACEEU) - can you tell us a bit about your work and how it contributes to the objectives of this project?
Emmanuel Adu Ohene: ACEEU is an international quality assurance body dedicated to advancing higher education by supporting universities in their transformation process towards becoming more entrepreneurial and engaged. As an accreditation council that promotes and acknowledges the engagement and entrepreneurial potential of HEIs, sustainability also lies at the heart of ACEEU. Sustainability and SDGs are high on the agenda of ACEEU as they are an important part and parcel of universities becoming more engaged and impactful in their ecosystems. As such ACEEU has contributed to many initiatives in this area, e.g. within educational projects like DECODE Sustainability (European Deans Council for Sustainable Development) and now SDG-iLevel (Leveraging Individual SDGContributions by University Staff).
Where do you see the biggest challenges to achieve the SDGs?
Emmanuel Adu Ohene: Sustainable development, guided by the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is a global priority, but it faces significant challenges in instability, implementation, and governance.
Global instability, marked by financial crises, political unrest, and climate change, contributes to a growing sense of insecurity worldwide, particularly affecting developing nations with existing challenges such as hunger and poverty. Climate change exacerbates these issues, posing threats to food security, water resources, and biodiversity, emphasizing the urgent need for mitigation according to experts like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Implementation challenges arise in translating SDGs into practical programs atthe local level. The complexity of designing policies that align with SDGs and address community needs diverts attention from essential groundwork, leading to concerns raised by critics. Measuring development outcomes, including aspects like income and individual development, presents another challenge. While the Human Development Index is a tool for assessment, debates persist on translating macro-level targets into tangible practices.
Moreover, sustainable development relies on good governance. Governance involves fostering relationships among development sectors, nation-states, and civil society while coordinating globally to address concerns. The interdependence is evident in pursuing SDG 13 (climate action), emphasizing cooperation among nations. SDG 17 (partnership for the goals) underscores the need for a global partnership to mobilize resources and collaborate.
Effectively addressing these challenges is crucial for achieving sustainable development and meeting the SDGs by 2030. Acknowledging and actively working to overcome issues related to instability, implementation, and governance can pave the way for a more sustainable and equitable world.
The SDG-iLevel project puts a focus on individual contributions to the SDGs among academic staff. One concrete project activity is an online survey that is about to be launched. What is the goal of this survey?
Emmanuel Adu Ohene: The online survey is a key activity because it aims to elicit insights on individual contributions to SDGs in specific academic fields and roles as seen by university staff in European higher education institutions. The survey includes questions tailored to different target groups (educators, researchers, etc.) to find out about their personal perspective on sustainability and the SDGs in higher education, the specific SDGs they contribute to in their roles, and the motivation and incentives facilitating their contributions to the SDGs by providing examples, initiatives, and cases.
This study is important for the project because it will empower us to develop clear guidance and ready-made strategies and solutions to facilitate academics’ contribution to the SDGs.
What is the next step? Who can participate in the survey and how?
Emmanuel Adu Ohene: The survey is targeted at academics (educators, researchers, managers, leaders, and PhD students) in higher education institutions in the EU. Participants are kindly encouraged to complete the survey by 5 February 2024 under the following link: https://sdgiacademicsurvey.paperform.co