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City-University Partnerships in Implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals at a Local Level Rankmore, Sydney 2020-08

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City-University Partnerships in Implementing the UN Sustainable Development GoalsSydney RankmoreUBC School of Community and Regional PlanningPLAN 528 - Capstone ProjectAugust 14, 2020Executive Summary1. Introduction  1.1 Why should we care about the SDGs?  1.2 Think global, act local      1.3 Partnerships as a potential mechanism for localization 1.4 Study Objectives1.5 Methodology        2. City-University Partnerships: Literature Analysis 2.1 Cities2.2 Universities2.3 City-University Partnerships3. Exploring Approaches to City-University Partnerships: Case Study Review3.1 City of Los Angeles - UCLA, USC, ASU, Occidental, Pamona3.2 City of Pittsburgh - Carnegie Mellon University3.3 City of Bristol - University of Bristol3.4 Case Study Analysis 4. Analysis and Recommendations 4.1 Local Sustainability Stakeholders Interviews and Analysis4.2 Recommendations5. Conclusion6. AppendixTable of Contentsx12336689101112131517192021232627Executive SummaryThe 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is regarded as a triumph of multilateralism. The Agenda lays out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. To achieve the ambitious vision of the SDGs requires action and transformation of the private sector and civil society. Both cities and universities play an important role in operationalizing the SDGs at a local level.   Tackling complex sustainability challenges facing our cities today can be strengthened through partnership. To accelerate progress, cities can leverage partnerships with local universities. As demonstrated in this report, strong partnerships with universities can increase staff capacity and provide valuable expertise to produce knowledge-based policy decisions. Further, engaging with the SDGs can greatly benefit both universities and cities. Utilizing the SDG framework can help elevate local priorities to a global scale, providing a common definition and language for sustainability and facilitating partnerships internally, at a local and global scale.  There is no one right way to create a successful city-university partnership (CUP). This study demonstrates how cities and universities respectively can engage with the SDG framework, as well as the benefits of creating a city-university partnership in implementing the SDGs at a local level. This study will provide examples of successful and productive CUPs and provide recommendations for approaching a CUP between the City of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia in implementing the SDGs at a local level.   xIntroduction1.1.1 Why should we care about the Sustainable Development Goals?In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is a universal framework for action to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. The 2030 Agenda was signed by every Member State of the United Nations, providing an ambitious and transformative pathway for global sustainable development. At its core are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which act as a set of guidelines that both developing and developed countries need to tackle to achieve sustainability. The SDGs are interdependent global calls to action that aim to achieve a more sustainable future for all. The Goals were created through an exhaustive and highly participatory process by diverse groups of stakeholders worldwide, which included private sector as well as civil society. This process helped to ensure all countries, both developing and developed, were reflected in the Goals. Every country has significant work to do to achieve global sustainability.1Benefits of using the SDG framework:2List assembled using Deniger et al. (2019) and industry expert interviews• Engaging with the SDGs can help facilitate internal conversations about sustainability, break down institutional silos and connect individuals who are working on similar projects.• Committing to the SDGs forces leadership and policymakers to make progress on multiple dimensions of sustainability at once while minimizing trade-offs.• The SDGs help to provide a common language for sustainability across multiple scales and jurisdictions. This is relevant for internal communication but also for engaging with external stakeholders or forming partnerships that can help to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs.• Incorporating the SDGs into policy challenges stakeholders to identify data, indicators, and outcomes that match their priorities. The SDG framework helps to guide data collection and create methods that are targeted to an outcome.• The principle to ‘leave no one behind’ is embedded within the SDG framework to ensure vulnerable populations are being considered in all policy decisions, which brings a social and equity lens to sustainability. • The SDGs provide a framework for an honest and transparent account of progress to those not in positions of power. Transparent reporting of progress creates a way for potential partners to visualize how their work might interact with the city’s goals and the SDGs.• Utilizing the SDGs allows the opportunity to engage with a global community of stakeholders who are facing similar problems in their own jurisdictions or institutions.• Engaging with the SDGs provides an opportunity to elevate local priorities to a global conversation.• The SDGs provide an opportunity to measure and evaluate what is working and what can be improved to create a more sustainable future.• Canada’s commitment to the SDGs means that they will be a major influencer on the strategies and actions of the national government, businesses and organizations as well as on development finance flows over the next few years. Aligning with the SDGs means aligning with future national policy.• Using this well thought-out and vetted “UN SDG helped redefine and broaden the definition of sustainability – any form of long-term sustainability relies on sustainable development, with social and economic factors recognize as equally important and deeply intertwined with environmental issues.3” 2“Every city has a different strategy or different way of looking at sustainability challenges, for example Vancouver has the Healthy Cities strategy and the Greenest City Strategy, New York City has its OneNYC Plan and LA has many different strategies. However, it’s impossible to put them side by side, because they’re literally in different languages. Using the Sustainable Development Goals you can figure out if Vancouver is having a challenge with X, Y, Z you can translate that into the Goals, look up what LA is doing, see they’re doing a great job of it and learn from them. It just makes it easier to facilitate those partnerships.” – Alexandra Hiniker, CMU (2020)framework helps to strengthen policymaking rather than add an additional layer of requirements and expenses.• Engaging with the SDGs creates additional avenues to receive funding.• Utilizing the SDG framework provides policymakers with a time horizon that lasts beyond one mayoral term which will promote long term solutions.1.2 Think global, act localBy agreeing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Canada has demonstrated its commitment to achieving global sustainability. However, it is broadly recognized that to make progress, engagement at a subnational level is essential. Stakeholders at all levels of government and society play essential roles in achieving the intended outcome of the SDGs.4 Cities are able to tailor global SDG action to local needs by utilizing local level cross-sectoral partnerships.Sustainability challenges such as climate change, air quality and clean water sources do not have jurisdictional boundaries; they must be addressed simultaneously across all scales and jurisdictions. The SDGs were written to be relevant at different scales and localized ensuring that no one is left behind and that different jurisdictions of government and stakeholders across society can move toward a common goal.5Localizing the SDGs does not always need to be a grand gesture; basic and foundational action to improve the quality of life at the neighborhood level can stimulate progress at the smallest scale. This reflects the true intentions of the SDGs: improving individual lives and larger societal structures by addressing systemic threats to sustainability in ways that are just, equitable, durable, and feasible.41.3 Partnerships as a potential mechanism for localization Progress can be accelerated with the creation of partnerships between key stakeholders in the pursuit of local level sustainability. One of these essential partnerships central to the localization of the SDGs is between the city and the local university(s).5 Universities are on the forefront of innovation to solve global crises. They can provide valuable research capacity to a municipality and help to strengthen knowledge platforms. Universities operate under different measures, and often do not face the same political challenges of municipalities. The governance of a university allows them to have the administrative flexibility to enact key changes to realize SDG targets. This allows universities to act as test-beds for SDG implementation which can inform municipal decision making and policy development, which can in turn influence provincial and federal policy.6 City of VancouverBuilt on the traditional lands of the Musqueam Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, Vancouver is recognized as a well-planned, livable and sustainable city. However, as British Columbia’s most populous city, Vancouver is not immune to the complex sustainability challenges that cities around the world are facing, including climate change impacts, housing insecurity, and an aging population.7 The City of Vancouver’s sustainability actions are laid out in two overarching City documents: the Greenest City Action Plan and the Healthy City Strategy. The Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP) consists of three overarching focus areas with ten subsequent goal areas. One main goal of the GCAP is to elevate Vancouver to become internationally recognized as one of the greenest cities in the world.8 While the GCAP focuses on the environmental side of sustainability, the Health City Strategy focuses on a the health, wellbeing and social side of sustainability. It is thirteen long-term goals are focused on creating healthy people, healthy communities and healthy environments. Sustainability strategy and policy is in a time of transition at the City of Vancouver. The GCAP is currently under review to understand what worked best and what needs to be updated in the next iteration. Vancouver City Council has already expressed interest in better understanding how the SDGs can be aligned with existing city policies and initiatives to better accomplish the complex sustainability challenges that are facing Vancouver. This could be an opportunity to utilize the SDG framework for the next phase of Vancouver long-term sustainability policymaking.1.3.2 University of British ColumbiaThe University of British Columbia (UBC) is a global research university with two campuses, one in Vancouver and one in Kelowna. UBC Vancouver is situated on the traditional lands of the Musqueam First Nations. UBC has been committed to incorporating sustainability into higher education for decades and was the first university in Canada to open a campus sustainability office.9 UBC is unique in that it is not within Vancouver’s city limits and is therefore technically not considered to be part of the City of Vancouver. As such, UBC has it’s own campus and community planning department, operates their own utilities and is responsible for their own roads and infrastructure. UBC is both the owner and the developer of the land, positioning them in a unique position for pursuing sustainable development on campus. UBC has a 20-year sustainability strategy which is divided up by teaching, learning and research, operations and infrastructure, and the UBC community. One of the initiatives laid out in the sustainability strategy is the UBC Campus as a Living Lab initiative. This initiative uses the campus’ physical space and human systems to test, study, and learn from both the successes and failures in a real world context.10 In addition, UBC has a Wellbeing Strategic Framework which acts a shared vision for health-and-wellbeing at UBC.11 Sustainability at UBC is overseen by the UBC Sustainability Initiatives, Campus and Community Planning, and UBC Wellbeing.The city-university partnership (CUP) between the City of Vancouver and University of British Columbia will be used in this report to contextualize the recommendations for creating CUPs to implement the SDGs. 4.Map of Vancouver with UBC at the end of the peninsula1.3.3 The Existing PartnershipTo date the City of Vancouver and UBC maintain a good working relationship and collaborate each year on sustainability related projects and initiatives. They maintain a semi-formalized partnership in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed in 2010 to support each other’s sustainability goals.9 The MoU provides a framework to pursue sustainability initiatives that contribute to achieving the Greenest City Action plan and help to advance UBC’s sustainability agenda. An initiative that resulted from the MoU is the Sustainability Scholars Program. This program provides UBC graduate students with internships within the City of Vancouver to work on applied sustainability research projects. The project has been considered a huge success as it helps to advance sustainability initiatives throughout the city and provides students with experience working within municipal government on sustainability topics.12 UBC is also an academic partner with Vancouver’s CityStudio which is an innovation hub that brings together students and faculty from multiple institutions to work with city staff and community groups to improve Vancouver.9 The MoU is currently under revision to understand how the partnership can be more productive and mutually beneficial. 5.1.5 MethodologyThis study utilizes three main methods of gathering information about city-university partnerships implementing the SDGs as seen below. The literature analysis aimed to provide a foundational understanding of city-university partnerships and how they can contribute to implementing the SDGs on a local level. The case study review was designed to provide real world examples of three different types of city-university partnerships in implementing the Goals to provide context to the information gathered in the literature analysis. Finally, the stakeholder interviews and analysis provide insight into the challenges the City of Vancouver and UBC face in implementing the SDGs at a local level, and how leveraging the partnership between UBC and City of Vancouver can help to alleviate some of these major challenges.1.4 Study ObjectivesThe following study objectives were establish to help guide the research:1. To understand the role of universities and cities to implement the SDGs.2. How the creation of a city-university partnership can strengthen SDG action and implementation at a local level.  3. How universities, together with municipalities can influence SDG policy development and implementation at a Federal Level. 6.City-University Partnerships: Literature Analysis• A review and analysis of available academic literature, UN reports and various guides for localizing the SDGs.• Integration of findings and perspectives on city-university partnerships using an SDG lens to address questions identified in the study objectives. Exploring Approaches to City-University Partnerships: Case Study Review• Case study was assembled using information gathered through industry expert interviews with stakeholders from Bristol, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.• The case study locales were selected because of their city-wide commitment and success in integrating the SDG framework intro city/university policy. They also represent a diverse set of examples of city-university partnerships varying from very formalized to completely unformalized.• The interviews lasted 30 minutes and were performed via video-conferencing.• The information gathered from the industry expert interviews was supported by background information gathered during the literature analysis to provide more information on each of the cities being reviewed. Local Stakeholder Interviews and Analysis• Interviews series conducted with two groups of local stakeholders; four UBC staff and three City of Vancouver staff which totals seven local stakeholders.• The group of local stakeholders were selected based on their engagement with the SDGs directly or with an aspect of sustainability. See list of interviewees in Apendix B.• The interviews lasted 30 minutes and were performed via video-conferencing or over the phone. • Interview questions centered around the perceived challenges and benefits of implementing the SDGs at a local level and their professional experience and opinion of the relationship between UBC and the City of Vancouver and how it could be improved.• The Interview analysis centered around three main areas of findings: challenges of implementing the SDGs in Vancouver, benefits of implementing the SDGs in Vancouver and the strengths of the city-university partnership. • Four themes were pulled from interviews based on reoccurring points for each main area of finding.• See interview questions in Appendix B. 7.2. City-University Partnerships: Literature Analysis2.0 Literature ReviewWhile the SDGs were developed at a national level, they set a framework that actors at subnational scales can customize to fit their unique context.3  It has become increasingly clear that sustainability challenges are playing out at a local level, therefore, local stakeholders must engage with the SDG framework in attempts to help solve these complex challenges.  This literature analysis will focus on understanding the body of research that places both cities and universities as key drivers for SDG implementation. The three main goals of this analysis are to understand: 1. Where both cities and universities fit into SDG implementation at a local level2. City-university partnerships and the unique ways these two entities interact3. How a city-university partnership can accel-erate progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda2.1 CitiesCities play an increasingly crucial role in translating the high-level visions of the SDGs into practice through local policies informed by targets and indicators. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that 65% of the 169 targets under the SDGs will not be reached without the engagement of local and regional governments.4For local leaders working to improve the quality of life for citizens in urban environments, the SDGs are aimed at providing a roadmap to equitable and prosperous development. Focusing sustainable development efforts in cities is a strategic choice to leverage gains against poverty inequality and climate change. Cities can utilize their assets and leverage exiting partnerships to increase their capacity to tackle complex sustainability challenges. The SDG framework provides an opportunity for municipal decision makers to reassess urban planning practice and development utilizing a more holistic definition of sustainability. (Val)A number of unique qualities make cities prime locations for SDG implementation including:4• Cities have the capacity to engage directly with citizens making them capable of creating SDG policy that reflects the interests of the citizens.• Cities have access to city networks allowing for regular communication between municipalities to facilitate information sharing on sustainability topics.• Cities have the unique ability to leverage public-private partnerships to accelerate progress. It is well established that SDG action cannot progress without the private sector facilitating whole-system transformational change.• Cities have access to datasets that help to measure and monitor SDG progress.Cities must also recognize their limitations and fill in the gaps of knowledge and capacity by leveraging partnerships. Cities cannot operate in isolation from the regional or national governments. Municipal governments are responsible for delivering much of the national governments high-level commitments.13 Since there is already buy-in at a national level, the SDGs will be a major influencer on the strategies and actions of the national government, businesses and organizations as well as on development finance flows over the next decade which will in turn have significant impact on local governments.13“With the majority of humanity concentrated in urban areas, cities are widely regarded as central arenas in the pursuit of global sustainability.14”  9.2.2 UniversitiesUniversities are uniquely positioned to play a central role in co-creating sustainable solutions at a local level.6 Given the size of the task of implementing and achieving the SDGs, universities play a critical role in providing support for accelerated action. Universities can build collective capacity by drawing on solutions from academic faculty and researchers.6Such large-scale transformational change called for in the 2030 Agenda requires the creation of new knowledge, ideas and ways of doing things. Universities help to build new institutions in civil society, drive technological and social process, and help develop and change cultural values. Universities as knowledge institutions are training and socializing the next generation of leaders, decision-makers, teachers, innovators, entrepreneurs and global citizens. These services are critical for helping to develop and implement sustainability solutions, develop policy, and transformation pathways and monitor progress.6It is broadly recognized that universities can contribute to SDG action and implementation in four key areas: learning and teaching, research, governance and external leadership.Research provides knowledge-based decision making and is a key driver for innovation and economic growth.15 University research can be used to actively support local implementation of the SDGs by:• Helping to develop sustainable development policy by identifying problems and challenges, model likely futures, and develop monitoring and reporting practices. • Utilizing existing research projects to provide expert advice on individual SDGs and SDG implementation. • Providing expert advice and collaborative capacity to localizing the SDG target and indicators.6Universities have the opportunity to leverage their position as a neutral and trusted institution within the community to help accelerate SDG progress. Universities are central players in regional and national innovation systems, who do not necessarily suffer from the same level of turn-over as municipal government.1⁵ Particularly in times of unrest, people rely on evidence-based decision making backed by a trusted institution such as a local university. Universities have the responsibility to guide response to the 2030 Agenda using external leadership to facilitate cross-sectoral engagement and partnerships.6 • Use partnerships with business and industry partners to understand where the private sector is at with sustainable development, and assist in further action and implementation• Work with municipal leaders and decision makers to identify key problems and create innovative solutions• Leverage influence to get issues on the political agenda• Develop tools and resources to support SDG implementation at different scales• Focus on gaining an understanding of local barriers and success factors, this can help to reduce the broad nature of applying the Sustainable Development Goal frameworkUniversities that clearly articulate how they are contributing to the SDGs are better placed to demonstrate their relevance to society, meet community needs and attract support.16“Universities are well placed to assume a central role in the co-design and co-production of knowledge and tools for societal transformations towards sustainability with diverse external stakeholders from industry, government and civil society.1⁴” 10.2.3 Regional Benefits of City-University PartnershipsOne of the most productive ways to accelerate progress towards sustainability is to share solutions across scales.⁵ The 2030 Agenda highlights the need for integrated governance to address the complex challenge of sustainability. Integrated governance includes horizontal collaboration (between entities and actors at the same level), vertical collaboration (among actors in different levels, e.g. national, regional and local) as well as collaboration among different types of actors (public sector staff and politicians, private sector, civil society and academia). The literature widely recognizes that no single actor or level of governance can fully address sustainability without forming partnerships and facilitating multi-scalar collaboration.1Cities and universities are important sites of policy action and are therefore uniquely situated to operationalize the principles of the SDGs. To utilize the SDGs to tackle complex sustainability challenges, cities must build upon existing assets to increase their capacity to achieve sustainable development at a local level. Existing assets include utilizing the knowledge and research capacity of universities to facilitate local level SDG action.Cities have the opportunity to create partnerships with local researchers to find funding for projects in disciplines from the social sciences to engineering that support implementation of the SDGs. Utilizing this knowledge capacity allows cities to gain expert advice while findings can be published to help other cities in their pursuit of sustainable development.3The capacity of the university to use scientific knowledge and leverage its existing partnerships to advance local sustainability challenges is well suited for the scale of cities. The mutually beneficial partnership allows researchers to deeply engage with the local context to contribute to sustainability challenges. Utilizing scientific methods to understand what moves cities and regions closer to achieving the goals, rather than detailing how sustainability problems manifest will help to solve real world problems.⁵ Academic work can be enhanced greatly from applied research in a real-world setting solving real-world challenges and also allows for increased visibility of research.Local government can integrate scientific research results into policy, planning and legislation to strengthen decision making.5 However, the partnership can extend beyond utilizing research support. Cities and universities can collaboratively tackle urban sustainability challenges by generating increased opportunities for long-term societal engagement and administrative sectors of the university.1⁴These partnerships should seek to maintain stable collaboration, and focus on building long-term resiliency within partnership. A successful CUP is one which aligns with the needs of both the city and the university partners and draws on the functions and strengths of each entity.⁹“Participation in a network of organizations facing similar complex challenges, provides significant value to individual institutions, as they can learn from their peers’ experiences and engage in collective debates and problem solving. However, it also allows individual institutions, both cities and universities, to play leadership roles in sharing their own solutions, approaches and success stories to the benefits of the whole region.⁹” 11.Exploring Approaches to City-University Partnerships: Case Study Review3.*See interview information in Appendix B3.1 City of Los Angeles - UCLA, USC, ASU, Occidental College, Pamona CollegeIn the fall of 2017, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti established a new office of international affairs as a way to strengthen ties with the international community on city diplomacy, trade, foreign investment, and collaboration on areas like climate. Under the portfolio of this office is the development of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in the City of Los Angeles is viewed as a way to align their efforts to a shared global development agenda and use the common language of the Goals to make progress for the people of Los Angeles. The City of Los Angeles and the Mayor’s Office realized that many of the SDGs are operationalized at a local level, that cities can play a large role in being agents of change at a global scale.17 The value of the SDGs for Los Angeles is to: • Align with a globally shared agenda for progress• Provide an analysis of large gaps in sustainability• Provide a common language for sustainability to create a network of shared information with other cities, both domestic and international, and local community-based organizations. • Measure progress to be more data-driven and transparent, and to ensure progress is distributed and equitable. The Mayor’s Office decided to pursue a Voluntary Local Review (VLR) as a way to bring together resources, form partnerships and map out current initiatives and strategies related to the SDGs. The VLR was a way for Los Angeles to begin the conversation about the SDGs and to provide a framework to build off of in the coming years.1⁷ Leading this project and implementation of the SDG in LA is Erin Bromaghim from the LA Mayor’s Office and Director of  the 2028 Olympic Games.From the start, the City engaged with students and academic partners to figure out how to mobilize new projects related to the SDGs to accelerate action. One of the first steps of the process was to form a partnerships with local universities starting with Occidental College in February 2018, which was then followed by three other universities, Arizona State University, University of California at Los Angeles,  13.and University of Southern California in May 2018, and finally Pomona College joined in May 2020. This process began by leveraging existing informal partnerships to bring together a group of people that were already engaged in the SDGs and create a more formalized relationship. The City recognized the unique benefits that would come from engaging in partnerships with academic institutions such as academic expertise, increased knowledge capacity and engaging with a group of creative and passionate individuals.18During the summer of 2018, the Mayor’s Office brought 18 students from the partner universities to help map current activity, plans, policies and data to the SDG framework. During this process, the students found that many of the SDG targets were not relevant to a Los Angeles context and they therefore created a methodology to assess the application of all 169 targets for the City of Los Angeles. Their goal was to propose revision of the targets while preserving the intent. They created a rubric to score each target, and a framework of revised targets. The Mayor’s Office was then able to bring a narrative layer to this information and identified appropriate indicators and data sources to evaluate progress.1⁷Moving forward, Los Angeles will be the home to the 2028 Olympic Games, and the SDGs provide a framework to contextualize the work and to think about the legacy of the games. The SDGs help to provide a long-term lens about how to use the games and other mechanisms to bring greater equity to the City of Los Angeles. They help to ensure consideration of the ‘leave no one behind’ principle and that equity and environment is being considered and respected.“I think a major benefit of the program is having direct engagement from subject matter experts in both the faculty and then having a lot of passionate folks who bring their ideas and excitement to the table from the students” – Erin Bromaghim, LA Mayors Office (2020)Lessons Learned:• Throughout the process of partnership with local colleges and universities, the City has learned to adapt to the context of the university. Significant challenges come with engaging multiple academic institutions at the same time. Each one operates differently therefore changing the way the city interacts with them. • It is critically important for both partners to set baseline expectations for time and funding commitments. • Allow time for the students/project partners to get acquainted with the environment in which they are making policy recommendations to ensure best quality of product. • It is important to demonstrate the value add when engaging new partners. If the partner is already mission focus, demonstrate how the SDGs can enhance existing work without adding a large amount of work. The value add is to provide a common language by which people can share ideas and form partnership, to bring resources to people or groups that are already engaged in or interested in addressing global issues by taking action at a local level, and providing the value of branding the SDGs as a globally recognized framework.• Successful implementation of the SDG at a local scale can demonstrate to higher levels of government that the SDGs are a useful framework for sustainability• It is important that every 'institutions' has someone who is championing the SDGs and coordinating the response.  14.3.2 City of Pittsburgh - Carnegie Mellon UniversityConversations related to the Sustainable Development Goals between City of Pittsburgh staff and Carnegie Mellon University staff began in 2018. They were surprised to find that by doing so, they were joining a movement that had already began to grow in Pittsburgh.19 Building on the growing movement, in the fall of 2019 the Mayor of Pittsburgh and the provost of Carnegie Mellon University both made public commitments to implement the Sustainable Development Goals at a city and university scale respectively. The City of Pittsburgh announced they would be undertaking a Voluntary Local Review to measure the success of its comprehensive and neighbourhood planning based on its alignment with the UN SDGs. The SDGs are intended to provide a framework for holding the City of Pittsburgh accountable to a common set of sustainability goals.1⁹ The hope is that a more integrated approach will help to make significant advances towards local sustainability and ‘put a dent’ in the SDGs.20Meanwhile, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) announced that they will be undertaking the first ever Voluntary University Review. To do so, CMU hired Alexandra Hiniker as an Executive Fellow for Sustainability Initiatives. Alexandra Hiniker previously worked in the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, where she led the world’s first Voluntary Local Review. She brings her wealth of knowledge to the task of localizing the Goals to a university context.   While the City and University have not formed a formal partnership where they plan to release any reports together, they have committed to collaborating on their respective implementation of the SDGs at a local level. Though these two stakeholders will be reporting on the SDGs at different scale, the Goals allow communication through a common language for sustainability. Creating these voluntary reviews in tandem allows staff to support each other throughout the process, share ideas and creative solutions, and elevate SDG action to state, national and global levels. Further, given the current political context of Pittsburgh and the United States, the public often has more  15.confidence in the university system than the municipal system. Citizens tend to view universities as neutral and trusted institutions that use evidence and knowledge to inform decision making.⁶ For this reason, universities can help to communicate important sustainability challenges and make decisions that will help to clear the way for cities to follow suit with increased confidence from the public.Moving forward, CMU and the City of Pittsburgh hope to improve the facilitation of partnerships towards achieving the SDGs. The reports are a means to an end, much of the goal of creating these reports is what is gained in the process. The process aims to gain an understanding of what meaningful and continued engagement with the SDGs looks like.Lessons Learned:• Universities are places of trusted progressive action making them a key player in local SDG action• Reporting on the SDGs are a way to assess internal action and take stock of current initiatives, unpack them, and improve them.• Reporting on the SDGs allows Universities the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable Development at a national and global scale• Stakeholders often connect with the principles of the SDGs but have trouble with committing to the SDGs as a whole.• Reporting on the SDGs is as much about the process as the product. It is important to understand that engaging with the SDGs is not just about using the SDG logo, it is about supporting partnerships and continued engagement with the Goals. 16.3.3 City of Bristol - University of BristolSustainable Development Goal action in Bristol was initiated following the city being awarded the European Green Capital recognition in 2015. As a way to maintain momentum towards sustainability, the SDG Alliance was created. The SDG Alliance is a group of people who are active in the implementation and use of the SDGs and those that are interested in supporting further work towards implementation. The network includes individuals from local universities, city council officials, major business, and community organizations.21  Utilizing the SDGs provides the City of Bristol with many advantages. It allows them to secure their status as an international city, and to use the framework to collaborate with other cities around the world and share information on how to address some of the most pressing global challenges at a local level.The value of the SDGs for the City of Bristol is:• The SDGs can be used as a management tool and the indicators provide a useful way to measure progress.22• Allows them to use a common sustainability language across sectors to facilitate communication between stakeholders.• Creation and maintenance of international relationships to facilitate knowledge sharing.• The SDG’s vision of sustainability that ‘leaves no-one behind’ resonates with the City of Bristol’s priorities for the future of the cityIn 2017, the SDG Alliance, Bristol City Council Resilience Officer and a community interest company called the Bristol Green Capital Partnership commissioned students from the University of Bristol to undertake a project to understand whether a resiliency framework or the SDG framework would be most` relevant for the City of Bristol. Following the conclusion being that the SDGs would be the most relevant framework, the students applied for university funding to continue their work to create more interest and expand partnerships and funding. This led to a formalized partnership between the  17.Bristol Green Capital Partnership and the University of Bristol, which elevated the work to become a city-wide project. To facilitate this work, this partnership funded an SDG Research and Engagement Associate position.22 This position was filled by the University of Bristol’s Allan Macleod who was one of the master’s students tasked with the initial report in 2017.  He is responsible for coordinating SDG activity within the city through both the University and the City Office. This partnership has allowed the University of Bristol to demonstrate its commitment to the city as a civic university and allowed the opportunity to support city-led initiatives. The academic partnership helped to develop  important data and enhance existing data to create a better foundation of knowledge. Simultaneously, the City of Bristol was getting ready to deliver the One City Plan. This is a plan to articulate a collective vision, enhance resilience of public services, support problem solving in the face of complex city challenges and increase sustainability within the City of Bristol (VLR). Stakeholders saw a unique opportunity for the SDGs to offer a common language for diverse city partners across the private and public sector to address key issues in deliver the One City Plan. Through strategic partnership between the University of Bristol and City Council, facilitated by the SDG Research and Engagement Associate, the SDGs were embedded within the One City Plan.21 Along with the One City Plan, a Voluntary Local Review was prepared by the SDG Research and Engagement Associate and academic partners within the University. The VLR was intended to act as an independent assessment of progress towards achieving the SDGs. This team leveraged existing partnerships through the SDG Alliance, the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, the University of Bristol and others to gather data to create the VLR.Moving forward, there is potential for the University of Bristol to build on this momentum to enhance university level implementation of the SDGs. Further, through this City-University Partnership, they hope to increase funding support for these projects, continue to build partnerships with other local knowledge institutions to further increase capacity and pursue work that would potentially engage a regional and international community. Lessons Learned:• It is important to approach the partnership with an understanding that everyone is coming from a different perspective and background. Further, all stakeholders are using the SDGs differently and at different scales. • It is important to engage with the community and community organizations to ensure the citizens are reflected in the policies that are supported by the SDGs. The community must maintain ownership of city policies even if they are informed by a global agenda.• SDG implementation does not have to be perfect the first time around, rather it is an iterative process facilitated by continued partnership.• The ability to operationalize and mobilize the SDG at a city level depends on the amount stakeholders will transform their way of operating.• It is important to recognize when to leverage leadership to build collective impact.• It is important to recognize your role as a knowledge hub and to share information and approaches with other cities or institutions. 18.3.4 Case Study AnalysisAs evidenced by these examples, there is no one right way to approach the partnership. These case studies of Los Angles, Pittsburgh and Bristol demonstrate three successful examples of the many ways cities and universities can create partnerships to implement the SDGs at a local level. They demonstrate both formal and informal partnerships and various different levels of commitment to the partnership. For example, the partnership between the City of Bristol and the University of Bristol is formalized by the staff position that sits within both institutions and facilitates the partnerships to ensure continued action is being taken to implement the SDGs in Bristol. On the other side, the City of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University do not have a formalized partnership, instead they participate in information sharing and supporting each other through the process of reporting on the SDGs.Some key themes observed across all three case studies:• Each case study has at least one individual that champions the integration of the SDG framework into local level policy.• Each case study has commitment from high-level leadership to implement the SDGs in their respective cities.• Each case study has either completed or intends to complete some sort of local review to report on their progress. • Each case study has plans to enhance their city-university partnership in efforts to continue implementation of the SDGs. • Each partnership included some involvement from a third party non-profit funder to help financially support the work of the partnership.• Each city-university partnership is working continually working to enhance and strengthen their partnership to ensure continued implementation of the SDGs.  Each of the cases is working to create new partnerships with community stakeholders.• Each industry expert interviewed for these case studies  19.4. Analysis and Recommendations4.1 Local Sustainability Stakeholders Interviews and AnalysisThe interviews with stakeholders from UBC and the City of Vancouver were aimed at understanding the perceived challenges and benefits of implementing the SDG framework from a Vancouver perspective. Further, the interviews provided important background insight on the existing partnership between the City of Vancouver and UBC and how stakeholders feel that it is productive and how it could be improved to be more efficient. The figures depicting interview responses visually demonstrate reoccurring answers among stakeholders. These themes start to create a picture of where there are areas to build upon and where there are areas that need improvement before considering implementation in Vancouver.  The figures below demonstrate the number of participants from 0-6 who identified each theme per specific study question.Figure 1 - Benefits of implementing the SDGs at a local levelFigure 1 demonstrates the top responses for perceived benefits of implementing the SDGs at a local level. This potentially provides an idea of where to focus efforts of implementation to maximize these benefits. “I think it's a positive step for a municipality to find some common ground and some support for an international framework that could lend itself to a more equitable and just global community. And to see the actions we take to address the inequities within the city as being part of a much larger picture.” – Peter Marriot, Social Planning, City of VancouverFigure 2 demonstrates identified challenges to implementing the SDGs at a local level. This establishes areas that need to be addressed in order to implement the SDGs in Vancouver. There is potential to focus the creation of and SDG city-university partnership  on these themes to advance SDG action. 21.Figure 2 - Challenges of implementing the SDGs at a local levelAs discussed in this study, a potential method of addressing the challenges depicted in figure 2 is through a city-university partnership. Figure 3 demonstrates the potential outcomes of a prosperous city-university partnership as identified by City of Vancouver and UBC staff. A partnership enabling access to high-quality research, increased resources, access to a diverse group of community stakeholders and a test-bed for new and innovative ideas has the potential to accelerate progress towards implementing the SDG in Vancouver.Figure 3 - City-university partnership potential in implementing the SDGs“You know sustainability is an ever evolving world, it requires cutting edge subject matter expertise and city staff are constantly faced with answering questions and trying to solve problems that haven't been solved before. So learning institutions are all about exploring those kinds of issues. And the room to experiment gives the city a real chance to hypothesize outcomes and answer tricky problems” – Tina Barisky, Sustainability Planning Analyst, City of Vancouver  22.“I think the buy-in around a global perspective and the role of universities to advance the UN SDGs can be quite powerful notwithstanding the challenges around an imperfect framework. But I think that's the other thing, we can contextualize the UN SDGs. We don't have to and we shouldn't in fact take every framework and indicator and say this is what we must do, rather we should contextualize it. If we do not have infinite amount of resources and time and money to advance all the Goals, then we can figure out where is it strategically best allocated to have the most impact positive impact from a university level, from a partnership level, from a research, from a teaching and learning level.”  - John Madden, Director of Sustainability and Engineering, UBC Campus and Community PlanningFormalized PartnershipUnformalized PartnershipLeast Resources Needed Most Resources Needed 1. Align/map high level strategic ‘sustainability’ goals across CUP and to the SDGs• Map city-university sustainability strategies to each other using the SDG framework.• Process of mapping identifies potential pathways for collaboration on individual projects by creating a common language for sustainability• Potential to align strategies to the SDGs and fill in the gaps where needed3. Incorporate the SDG framework into an existing program/partnership • Incorporate the SDG framework into an update of the Memorandum of Understanding• Adjusting the Sustainability Scholars Program requirements to align with one (or more) of the SDGs2. Creating of a Voluntary University Review/Voluntary Local Review or other reporting mechanism• Process of creating the review helps to engage stakeholders throughout the community • Allows a pathway to connect with the global community through standardized reporting mechanism• Allows City/University to demonstrate a local commitment to the global action4. Create a permanent staff position to facilitate the city-university partnerships in implementing the SDGs • Staff that sits within the City of Vancouver and UBC• Facilitates partnership between the two organizations and oversees SDG action and implementation within UBC and the City of Vancouver • Position funded by both organizations 4.2 RecommendationsThe recommendations have been created based on lessons learned in the case study review, takeaways from the literature analysis of city-university partnerships, the themes identified in the interview analysis using the context of City of Vancouver and UBC’s and their existing partnership to address sustainability challenges. This study proposes four potential avenues for engaging in a partnership to implement the SDGs in Vancouver. It is important to note that these recommendations could be undertaken in tandem with one another and can be combined to increase progress towards accomplishing the SDGs at a local level.  23. 1. Align/map high level strategic ‘sustainability’ goals to the SDGsThis recommendation helps to gain an understanding of where the City of Vancouver and UBC’s sustainability strategies unite and diverge and where there is opportunity for collaboration by creating a common language for sustainability. The mapping process can be helpful to break down institutional silos, connect individuals working on similar sustainability projects to each other, which in turn can increase capacity and productivity on these projects. The mapping process helps to provide a gap-analysis based on the SDGs globally recognized definition of sustainability, which can help to inform future sustainability planning for both entities and within the partnership. Ultimately the exercise creates the opportunity for new pathways of research collaboration within the CUP on SDG related topics. Once strategies have been mapped and gaps have been identified, there is potential to align existing strategies with the SDGs and fill in the gaps. 2. Creating of a Voluntary University Review/Voluntary Local Review or other reporting mechanismCities around the world are performing Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR) to help them map and align existing strategies with the SDGs. This is a well-documented process, many guides exist detailing how to approach this type of reporting. Carnegie Mellon University is currently the only university that is performing any formal type of Voluntary University Review (VUR) which creates an opportunity to learn from their process and adapt it to a UBC context. Performing a voluntary review helps to localize the SDGs to become applicable at a finer scale to help drive progress at a local level. The process of performing the review is just as valuable as the product, the process engages key stakeholders and starts a conversation, maps local needs to global needs, identifies gaps and opportunities to accelerate progress towards sustainable development. A voluntary review would help not only facilitate conversation between the City of Vancouver and UBC but help connect them to the global community to facilitate knowledge sharing. 24.4. Create a permanent staff position to facilitate the city-university partnership in implementing the SDGsAs demonstrated by the City of Bristol-University of Bristol case study, having an individual to champion SDG initiatives within both organizations can accelerate progress and create a productive partnership. This staff member would coordinate all SDG actions and ensure that an SDG lens be applied to all policy and planning decisions. More generally, this staff member can be useful to facilitate the partnership between the City of Vancouver and UBC on sustainability projects and ensure it is as productive as possible. They can help connect high-quality research to city projects to increase knowledge based decision making and create lasting relationships between individuals working on similar projects.3. Incorporate the SDG framework into an existing program/partnershipThere is opportunity to build on the already successful partnership between UBC and the City of Vancouver. As the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UBC and the City of Vancouver is being re-evaluated, there is an opportunity to explore how the SDG framework could help to strengthen and formalize the partnership between the two organizations. MoU has the potential to introduce the creation of a new tool or pathway to connect academic researchers to city staff to increase city capacity. Utilizing the SDG framework in re-evaluating the MoU may also help to provide a more holistic definition of sustainability to involve health and equity and create a common commitment that frames the work of the two organizations. Further, it may be worth exploring the option of expanding the Sustainability Scholars Program to incorporate an SDG lens into the projects. Following a mutual agreement between the City of Vancouver and UBC, the Program could require that the project proposals must align with one (or more) of the SDGs. Incorporating the SDGs into this already successful program may help to provide new avenues for funding from a third party to expand the program further. 25.5. ConclusionAs the global community strives to meet the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is increasingly clear that local action is important for achieving the SDGs. Local level actors including municipal governments and local universities play an essential role in localizing and operationalizing the broad Global Goals. The SDG framework can provide a value add for local stakeholders by elevating local priorities to a global scale, providing a common language for sustainability and facilitating partnerships across scales and jurisdictions. However, evidence shows that no single entity can tackle the SDG alone and action is strengthened by partnership. Therefore, as evidenced through this study’s literature analysis, case study review and interview analysis, city-university partnerships are effective ways that local stakeholders can accelerate SDG action.It is clear that there is no one right way to operationalize the SDG at a university or city level, and as such the recommendations provided in this study are not intended to be prescriptive. They are intended spur conversations about enhancing city-university partnerships to implement the SDGs at a local level and provide a beginning framework for action on this agenda. Some limitations apply to this study. This study was conducted during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic which pushed many cities around the world into states of emergency and limited contact between individuals. This may have impacted the availability of interview participants which may result in recommendations being based on the personal and professional opinions of a small number of individuals. Further, it is relevant to note that the case study review is not an exhaustive account of each city and universities action towards SDG implementing the SDGs. The case study review aims to highlight the city-university partnership in implementing the SDGs and how these partnerships were created and will continue. Recommendations for future research on the topic of city-university partnerships in implementing the SDGs involve further study on each of the recommendations to understand the feasibility of application based on a City of Vancouver-UBC partnership. There is more work to understand the implications of each recommendation given the context of Vancouver and the sustainability challenges and future goals. Further, a better understanding of the barriers to implementing the SDGs in Vancouver may assist to accelerate progress and identify targeted interventions. 26.Appendix6.1 Valencia, S. C., Simon, D., Croese, S., Nordqvist, J., Oloko, M., Sharma, T., ... & Versace, I. (2019). Adapting the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda to the city level: Initial reflections from a comparative research project. International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development, 11(1), 4-23.2 Deininger, N., Lu, Y., Griess, J., Santamaria, R. (2019). Cities Taking the Lead on the Sustainable Devel-opment Goals: A Voluntary Local Review Handbook for Cities. Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz College3 Mesa, N., Edquist, M., Espey, J. (n.d.) A Pathway to Sustainable American Cities: A guide to Implement-ing the SDGs.4 Hartley, K. (2019). Global Goals, Global Cities: Achieving the SDGs through Collective Local Action. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Retrieved from Withycombe Keeler, L., Beaudoin, F. D., Lerner, A. M., John, B., Beecroft, R., Tamm, K., ... & Lang, D. J. (2018). Transferring sustainability solutions across contexts through city–university partnerships. Sustainability, 10(9), 2966.6 Kestin, T., van den Belt, M., Denby, L., Ross, K. E., Thwaites, J., & Hawkes, M. (2017). Getting started with the SDGs in universities: A guide for universities, higher education institutions, and the academic sector. Retrieved from City of Vancouver. (2015). The Healthy City Strategy. Retrieved from City of Vancouver. (2015). The Greenest City Action Plan. Retrieved from Beaudoin, F., Davidson, J., Kamel, N., Baer Kramer, M., MacDonald, L., Pilon, A., & Way, T. (2020). Experiences Implementing City University Partnerships: Case studies and insights from Emerald Corridor Col-laboratory. Emerald Corridor Collaboratory.10 UBC Sustainability. (n.d.). Campus as a Living Laboratory. Retrieved from UBC Wellbeing. (n.d.). Wellbeing Strategic Framework. Retrieved from Pauer, S. U., Pilon, A., & Badelt, B. (2020). Strengthening city–university partnerships to advance sus-tainability solutions: a study of research collaborations between the University of British Columbia and City of Vancouver. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.13 Kanuri, C., Revi, A., Espey, J., & Kuhle, H. (2016). Getting started with the SDGs in cities. Sustainable Development Solutions Network: New York, NY, USA.14 Trencher, G., Bai, X., Evans, J., McCormick, K., Yarime, M. (2014). University partnerships for co-de-signing and co-producing urban sustainability.15 Huber B. (2016) The Role of Universities in Society. In: Liu N.C., Cheng Y., Wang Q. (eds) Matching Visibility and Performance. Global Perspectives on Higher Education. SensePublishers, Rotterdam. Kistner, H., Dautremont, J., & Urbanski, M. (2020). Stars Aligned: Using the Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System to Report on Contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: AASHE17 The Mayor’s Office of the City of Los Angeles. (2019). Los Angeles Sustainable Development Goals: A Voluntary Local Review of Progress in 2019. Retrieved from Bromaghim, E. (2019). Revising National SDG Targets for the City of Los Angeles. Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics.Appendix A: ReferencesEndnotes 28.19 City of Pittsburgh. (2019). Pittsburgh Becoming Second City to Integrate UN Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from Hopey, D. (2019) City Adopts UN Sustainability Goals. Post-Gazette. Retrieved from City of Bristol. (2019). Bristol and the SDGs: A Voluntary Local Review of Progress 2019. Retrieved from Carden-Noad, S., Macleod, A., Skidmore, T., Turner, E. (2017). Bristol and the UN Sustainable Develop-ment Goals.Image References"A few days in Vancouver" by Bust it Away Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0Category Theory. (2017). Retrieved from, D. (2014). Pittsburgh Skyline. Retrieved from (n.d.). Retrieved from, B. (n.d.). Vancouver Skyline. Retrieved from"University Boulevard" by DennisTsang is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0Salewskia. (2017). Los Angeles skyline and San Gabriel mountains. Retrieved from,_Winter_2016.jpgUN Ukraine. (2014). Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from B: Interviews 29.Interview Participants• Erin Bromaghim - Director of Olympics and Paralympics Development, City of Los Angeles• Angela Kim - Sustainable Development Goal Data Associate, City of Los Angeles• Alexandra Hiniker - Executive Fellow for Sustainability Initiatives, Carnegie Mellon University• Allan Macleod - UN Sustainable Development Goal Research Engagement Associate, University of Bristol/City of Bristol• John Madden - Director of Sustainability and Engineering, Campus and Community Planning, UBC• Chris Fay - Senior Manager for Strategic Policy, Campus and Community Planning, UBC• Karen Taylor - Program Manager for Sustainability Scholars, UBC Sustainability Initiative, UBC• Matt Dolf - Director of Strategic Support, UBC Wellbeing, UBC• Peter Marriott - Social Planner, City of Vancouver• Doug Smith - Director of Sustainability, City of Vancouver• Tina Barisky - Sustainability Planning Analyst, City of VancouverInterview Question Local Stakeholders1. Can you tell me about your role with (organization)?2. Have you undertaken any work related to the Sustainable Development Goals?3. In your professional opinion, are the Sustainable Development Goals a useful framework for achieving sustainability at a subnational scale?4. What do you think are the positives outcomes of implementing something like the SDG framework in Vancouver?5. What do you think are the major obstacles the City of Vancouver faces in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals? 6. 15. Can you describe the relationship between the City of Vancouver and UBC?7. 16. What are the major challenges the City of Vancouver faces in working with UBC or other major institutions on sustainability projects?8. In your opinion, where do UBC and other higher education institutions fit into the implementation of something like the Sustainable Development Goal framework on a city scale? 9. What are the plans for continued partnership between UBC and the City of Vancouver? Interview Questions Industry Experts1. Can you tell me about your role with (organization?2. What are the major strengths of the SDGs and why should people care about them?3. Can you tell about the process of creating a VLR?4. Can you tell me about the relationship between the City and the University?5. What would you say are the strengths of the partnership?6. What do you think could be improved about the relationship?7. What would you say are the major obstacles to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals at a local level? 8. Are the plans for further work between the City and the Universities? What does continued partnership look like?9. How do partnerships help you to affect federal/state legislation?


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