Make an impact through sustainability

Overview landscape of lush green jungle and ocean

Do you have a passion for sustainability?

Working abroad is a great opportunity to make a difference for our shared planet. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight that sustainability is a critical pathway to build prosperity, equity and a healthy planet. The 17 SDGs can only be realized with strong global partnerships, collaboration and cooperation.

At the University of Waterloo, the SDGs are an integral part of the campus' Sustainability Strategy to be a leader in sustainability education and research. Through your work abroad experience, you can help advance the SDG goals by exchanging ideas, working on SDG initiatives with your employer and engaging various stakeholders you may meet. Waterloo has programs focused on attracting students to contribute to SDG goals through meaningful work-integrated learning experiences. 

Six questions to start the conversation about SDGs

Want to engage your employer abroad about the SDGs in the workplace? Below are some questions that can get the conversation started:

  • Does the organization have a strong commitment to sustainability?
  • Does the organization engage in local training for skills development, hiring in underprivileged communities, local leadership development or advocacy for reducing inequalities?
  • Does the organization demonstrate a strong commitment to human rights, equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
  • Does the organization have a public (or internal) sustainability or Corporate Social Responsibility statement or report?
  • Does the organization directly support or work with other organizations that might reasonably be considered SDG champions themselves?
  • Is there training or educational resources available to me as a co-op student that specifically reference the SDGs or sustainability goals?

Acting on sustainability

What can you do after working on SDGs abroad? The good news is you can use this newfound knowledge and experience to make meaningful contributions. Here are some easy steps:

  • Seek more information about the SDGs and pursue internships within Canada that provide opportunities to exchange your new ideas.
  • Consider taking the Diploma in Sustainability.
  • Get involved with campus and community SDG groups, such as the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Youth, Impact Alliance and WUSA’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Student Hub.
  • Talk to your co-op advisor to learn more about your work abroad experience and the SDGs.