Being a Catalyst for Sustainable Development Means Taking Action

Wednesday, May 9, 2018
by Feridun Hamdullahpur

SDSN Launch Event

This week the University of Waterloo officially opened the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) of Canada hosted at the University by the Faculty of Environment.

It is an honour to have the SDSN here at Waterloo, in partnership with the Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI), and with the launch comes an increased capacity to explore and find solutions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are not focused on the environment and climate change alone. From gender and race inequity to access to education, food and water insecurity and clean energy, the SDGs encompass the needs and challenges billions of people around the world face every day. Waterloo will be at the heart of developing solutions to these complex issues and bring more equity, prosperity and stability to the world.

SDSN Canada: Why Waterloo?

The University of Waterloo is uniquely positioned in Canada to host the SDSN. We have the largest Faculty of Environment in Canada, we have a high concentration of researchers from countless disciplines and we have an entrepreneurial spirit that takes groundbreaking research and turns it into action.

Action is what Canada needs if we are going to hit our SDG targets by 2030.

While Waterloo will lead the SDG charge in Canada through the SDSN, we cannot do it alone. As the host institution for SDSN Canada, Waterloo is the hub of a national network of universities, researchers and non-governmental organizations. We need to bring together new ideas and new perspectives from all aspects of Canadian society to create positive change, and Waterloo will be home to it all.

An example of this collective effort was recently on display at the WGSI Generation SDG Summit. Researchers from across Canada gathered here in Waterloo to tackle the SDGs and their targets for Canada to explore and create a roadmap for how we can achieve those targets by 2030. It was an inspiring four days of hard work and I cannot wait to see how the dedication shown at the Summit can be translated into execution here at the SDSN.

Taking Action and Getting Involved

Canada is filled with peace and opportunity, but ranks only 17 on the 2017 SDG Index report that tracks the current performance of the 157 nations in meeting their SDG targets. This is not where we want to be. I know having SDSN Canada here at Waterloo will make a difference.

We are a hub of activity and creativity that leverages our strengths and expertise while collaborating with the world to have a global impact. Whether you’re a student, faculty member, staff member or community partner, I encourage you to learn about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and join the movement to reach our targets with the leadership of the SDSN Canada.