You are here

Sustainable Development Goals and the Faculty of Environment

On March 28th, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs will deliver the 2017 TD Walter Bean Lecture in Environment. Dr. Sachs is a global thought leader on development economics and has been a tireless advocate for the creation and adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To celebrate his visit, we present a series on Sustainable Development Goals and the Faculty of Environment.

SDGs chart

Unanimously adopted as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals are a blueprint to address the urgent global challenges facing the world. If achieved, these goals would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Complex, interrelated, broad and universally inclusive, they require cooperation from universities, governments, businesses and individual citizens across a variety of disciplines and sectors.

Students and faculty members in the Faculty of Environment are conducting research and mobilizing knowledge to make an impact on these important global issues. Below is a sampling of their work.

New stories will be added each week until the end of March, 2016

Hunger, poverty and rapid urbanization in the Global South

Woman sets up street side market

In the last 15 years, global hunger and malnutrition dropped by 15%. Still, more than 800 million people lack access to adequate food. In the next 15 years, Sustainable Development Goal 2 seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition and to achieve sustainable food production. The Hungry Cities Partnership is one project that seeks to help. Continue reading


The plight of the Pygmies of Idjwi

A man and wife Pygmy couple stand holding hands infront of a mud hut.

In March 2016, graduate student Amgad Zaky visited the Pygmies of Idjwi, a tribe of nomadic, hunter-gatherers in Africa - and some of the poorest people on the continent. It was a life-changing trip that inspired him to apply to the Masters of Development program. Continue reading


Keeping conflict out of minerals

Close up of mining pan full of minerals

Corruption, violence and human right violations have been ongoing issues for the mining supply chain for many years. So, in 2007 the non-governmental organization (NGO) community in central Africa turned to a different source for help. Continue reading


Interactive Tools for Youth Engagement in East Africa

group of african youth sitting outside building on earthen ledge

East Africa is the most rapidly urbanizing sub-region in the world - and one with a high percentage of youth. While unemployment and limited education may be leaving these young people susceptible to radicalization, learn about the unconventional approach one group used to reach them. Continue reading


Women, Water and Wellness

Women fetching water in African countryside

Imagine a woman in Uganda, nine months pregnant and having complications. She jumps on the back of a motorcycle and, before she gets to the hospital, stops to fill a 20 litre jerry can with water. Why? Because the hospital has no water. Not dirty water. No water. Continue reading


From Nepal to Canada: Partnerships for SDGs

Group of Indigenous Nepalese sit on ground and stone wall having meeting

Partnerships were key to helping the Indigenous Kumal people gain power, food security and clean water. Could the lesson these MDP students learned from Nepal help reconciliation among Canada’s First Nations? Continue reading


Key social drivers for effective oceans conservation

Aerial view of coastal village, boats in water, mountains in the background

Around the world, coastal and marine communities and ecosystems are the first to face the threat of climate change. Bridging organizations can connect people and knowledge to promote more effective marine conservation. Continue reading


Flooding in Dhaka City

Slum houses on stilts amongst flooding in Dhaka India

Master of Development Practice student Muniyat Haque shares her reflections after working alongside the largest slum in Dhaka City, Bangladesh and witnessing the affects of monsoon floods on the people who live there. Continue reading

Food security and the global supply chain 

Green combine harvesting a field

The way the dominant global food system is organized perpetuates unsustainable food production practices and inequalities where millions of people don’t get enough to eat while others have too much. Continue reading

A story of a woman: rewriting a tragedy through the SDGs

Three Indian women in colorful outfits carrying water on their heads

All around the world, women are told their place is in the household, not the classroom. They are taught their bodies are shameful and are denied rights over their own reproductive health. MDP student Romy Buchner shares reflections of this all-too-common story. Continue reading

The Affordable Energy for Humanity (AE4H) Initiative

Rural farmer watering crops by hand

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon calls energy the 'golden thread' connecting economic growth, social equity and sustainability. Nigel Moore, Manager of Global Programs and Initiatives at the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE), shares how the AE4H collaboration aims to bring Waterloo innovation to the global fight against energy poverty. Continue reading

Sustaining ‘life below water and on land’ through collaboration, stewardship and reciprocity

Colorful Indian fisher boats

What can we learn from dolphins, fishers and seagulls to further our understanding of the SDGs? School of Environment, Enterprise and Development professor Prateep Nayak elucidates the legendary story and other customs from the communities of the Eastern Ghats Mountains in India. Continue reading

Sustainability in Conflict Zones

Afghan mothers in an apartment block, holding their children

While recent decades have seen increased and sustained levels of peace in some regions, conflicts in many parts of the world, especially the Middle East, have hindered opportunities for people to develop economically and take sound action to address environmental issues. Continue reading

Structural inequalities perpetuate neglected tropical diseases

African students line up to speak with health care worker in a blue golf shirt, kneeling to record their names

Most people have heard of TB, HIV and malaria. These well-known ailments grab headlines and garner both research attention and widespread philanthropic support. But Neglected Tropical Diseases kill more people each year than TB, HIV and malaria combined. Continue reading

Enhancing the achievability of SDG 6

Woman wearing blue Indian shirt stands in front of large water pit

As the world has transformed in the Anthropocene, an age in which humans are the biggest force shaping the planet’s future, the governance and management of water is becoming increasingly important and needed to make water use more sustainable. Continue reading


Survival of coastal cities in the face of climate change depends on innovative planning

Planning students interview a local on the beach in Jamaica

Caribbean islands like Tobago and Jamaica are especially at risk to shifts in climate due to rising ocean levels, economic reliance on tourism, and a fragile food supply. Learn about the award-winning work examining how the design of our cities can adapt to a more chaotic climate. Continue reading

The SDGs in everyday life

People walking past green and glass building

The SDGs can seem so ambitious, global and far-reaching that it’s easy to think “What could I possibly do?” Turns out, a lot! ENV profs offer 13 tips on changes you can make right now to engage meaningfully and do your part towards achieving the SDGs.  Continue reading