UBC Graduate Research

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


The 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.

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