UN Sustainable Development Goals

Graphic with words Sustainable Development Goals and list of all 17 goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) represent 17 Goals, which are an urgent call for action for all countries in a global partnership. The Goals recognize the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of solutions that are required to build a sustainable future.

Higher education institutions are uniquely positioned to advance the SDGs through a broad range of work in research, outreach, teaching, and operations.

Read about how Western has taken action across all 17 SDGs in our 2020-2021 Sustainable Development Goals Report. Recognizing the importance of SDG 17: Partnership for the goals, you can learn more about Western's collaborations in the 2021 Partnership for the Goals report.

Each year, the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings assess universities around the world for their contributions to achieving the UN SDGs. In 2022 Western ranked 1st in Canada and 3rd in the world for our work towards the SDGs. 

SDG 1 - No poverty

End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Research

  • Addressing the root causes of poverty in London, Ontario, London Poverty Research Centre works towards ending poverty in our community. The centre approaches poverty reduction by focusing on three steps: research, knowledge mobilization, and community action.
  • Through a series of concurrent research initiatives and evaluation analyses, the Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion at Western collaborated on Homes4Women, a community pilot project that provides housing for women experiencing homelessness.

Outreachwestern staff support unite way event

  • UNICEF Western club raised over $10k in the past year through their event FAST 24, where participants fast for 24 hours and raise funds and awareness internationally.
  • Operated by the Faculty of Law at Western, Community Legal Services provides free legal services to low-income people in the community. The clinic is among the most progressive legal clinics in Canada and a leader in the cause of access to justice.

Teaching

  • Impact Experience is an experiential learning program that offers all students at Western and its affiliated University Colleges access to unique co-curricular opportunities to support community projects around the world.
  • In 2020, Ivey Business School at Western celebrated 10 years of the 39 Country Initiative that has helped the world's poorest countries to advance their management education by decades.

Operations

  • In 2020-21, Western provided $13.5 million in one-time funding to support students' financial needs as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Western launched the Student Relief Fund in 2020 to provide critical resources to those students who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and find themselves with urgent expenses. 

SDG 2 - Zero hunger

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Research

  • Dr. Bryan Neff and his lab in the Biology Department are researching best practices for ethical and sustainable aquaculture using advanced genetic techniques.
  • A new research collaboration between the Ivey Business School and Guelph-Wellington's 'Our Food Future' project will investigate how businesses such as farmers, manufacturers and retailers can create opportunities from waste and establish effective circular supply chains.

Outreach

  • A new Western Community Garden was established in Spring 2021 with the leadership of student group, EnviroWestern, which has grown to a collaboration between Landscape Services, the Office of Sustainability, Society of Graduate Students, and EnviroWestern. 
  • Hospitality Services has been hosting a weekly Farmers Market since 2014 as a symbol of celebration for local foods.

TeachingFresh team photo

  • Developed by graduate students enrolled in the Masters of Food and Nutritional Sciences program at Brescia, FRESH is a research-based, multi-strategy nutrition education program.
  • The University Students' Council (USC) combats student food insecurity by hosting cooking workshops and demonstrations throughout the year that promote sustainable eating, such as the Food Skills for Life workshop. 

Operations

  •  Hospitality Services developed a Sustainability Action Plan in 2020-2021 which incorporates sustainability in all aspects of its operation. Key goals include responsible sourcing, sustainable dining and waste reduction.
  • Food Support Services is a USC student service dedicated to reducing food insecurity among students, staff and community members.

SDG 3 - Good health & well-being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Research

  • Western professors Dr. Gregor Reid's and Brescia professor Dr. Sharareh Hekmat's research on the benefits of probiotics led to the creation of probiotic yogurt as the focal point for the Western Heads East program.
  • Researchers from Western are part of an international team that has led the first global test to use drone technology to aid in tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment in remote Madagascar.

Outreach

  • The Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging (CCAA) is a unique, national research and education centre within the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western promoting physical activity and well-being for older adults.
  • Western launched the Internal Wellness Rewards Program in 2021 to promote employees' participation in wellness events offered at Western.

Teachingphoto service image of globe in hands

  • The Global Health Systems (GHS) program is a one-year professional master's degree, focusing on international health, especially in marginalized populations.
  • Global MINDS program focuses on low/middle-income countries by specifically looking at local communities facing marginalization, especially in mental health inequities.

Operations

  • Health and Wellness provides free professional and confidential services to students who need assistance to meet their personal, social and academic goals.
  • Plans are underway to open an integrated Health and Wellness Centre in the newly renovated Thames Hall building. Students will be able to access medical care, counselling services, and wellness education in a single space.

SDG 4 - Quality education

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Research

  • 52 academic departments at Western are researching sustainability. Faculties engage with almost 350 different researchers across Ontario in varying disciplines with the hopes of emphasizing interdisciplinary collaboration to help address many of the sustainability issues the world faces today.
  • Western's Faculty of Education researchers developed the STEM and Social Skills (S3) program to support students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The program develops students' STEM knowledge through engaging and ability appropriate activities.

Outreach

  • The Western Serves Network aims to connect community organizations in the London area with the support they need. Western students are connected to the broader London community and non-profit organizations that work to tackle ongoing social issues.
  • Western Continuing Studies provides opportunities for everyone to keep learning at Western University. From recent graduates, job seekers, and corporate clients, there is an array of choices for lifelong learning.

Teachinglecture crowd brought together by Western

  • The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry is one of Canada's pre-eminent medical and dental schools. Schulich strives to maintain community health and wellness through community lectures such as ExaminED weekly lectures and See the Line concussion awareness presentations.
  • The Centre for Teaching and Learning is the teaching hub of the university to support the university's teaching and learning mission by providing orientation, training, mentorship, research and innovation opportunities for instructors at Western.

Operations

  • With more than 12 million items - both in print and online - Western Libraries houses one of the largest collections in North America. The general public is welcome to visit Western Libraries and make use of most collections.
  • Western has nearly 1,800 student awards, as well as internal scholarships, external scholarships and awards, academic merit scholarships, needs-based awards, and employee group scholarships.

SDG 5 - Gender equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Research

  • Dr. Nadine Wathen's interdisciplinary research examines how gender-based violence affects health and well-being. She addresses gender-based violence at multiple levels and works to support trauma and violence-informed and equity-oriented practices and policies.
  • The Sexuality and Gender Research Group brings together researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities with scholars in other disciplines to discuss questions of sexuality and gender.

Outreach

  • Go ENG Girl and Go CODE Girl are some of the community outreach programs offered by Western Engineering that provide interactive and exciting opportunities for girls in grades 7-11 to be introduced to engineering, coding, and related STEM fields.
  • Students at Empower Club work to remove barriers facing underprivileged women in the London community, such as women who have experienced abuse, single mothers, and women experiencing homelessness.

Teachingwomen studies banner

Operations

  • Recognizing the unique needs of gender-diverse students, the Trans Care Team comprises a group of clinicians who work together to provide specialized psychological counselling and medical care to students in an LGBTQIA2S+ affirmative environment.
  • Western offers access to two onsite childcare centres, the University Childcare Centre and the UCC Flexible Childcare.

SDG 6 - Clean water & sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Research

  • Launched in 2020, WesternWater Centre is an Engineering-based group researching real-life solutions for the management and treatment of water supplies.
  • Western engineer Christopher DeGroot led a study in 2021 where he collected wastewater samples from a number of strategic locations in London, ON and analyzed them at Western's ImPaKT Facility. Wastewater surveillance is a faster method of mapping community infection rates and acting as an early warning system for COVID-19 outbreaks.

Outreach

  • WaterAid Western club aims to fundraise and bring awareness to making clean drinking water, reliable toilets, and good hygiene accessible to everyone.
  • Western celebrates International World Water Day with a different topic each year, where past years' events focused on Water and Food Security, as well as Water Cooperation.

Teaching

  • The Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering offers courses in drinking water treatment at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can explore specialized courses including water resources management, wastewater management, hydrology, and groundwater modelling.

Operationsfaucet pouring water into a drinking glass

  • 88 newly installed water meters provide real-time data for Western's Energy Dashboard. Through demand management, Western's water intensity has dropped 14% since 2012.
  • Hundreds of low-flow faucets and showerheads were installed at Western residences, using approximately 30% less water compared to old faucets.

SDG 7 - Affordable and clean energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy

Research

  • The Ivey Energy Policy and Management Centre is an informative and trusted voice on Canadian energy policy matters in support of a thriving Canadian economy.
  • A big-data approach led by Western Engineering researchers is helping utility providers modulate the highs and lows of demand and production, while also planning for a greener future. The $3-million project with six partners could transform how utilities around the world predict and share energy use and supply.

OutreachExterior of Ontario Hall where students initiatives to power down takes place

  • Student Energy at Western seeks to provide students with the knowledge, connections, resources, and practical experiences that will inspire and empower them to lead the just transition to a sustainable energy system.
  • The Residence Powers Down Energy Challenge is a competition to reduce energy consumption amongst Western's residences that takes place annually.

Teaching

  • The undergraduate programs in Environmental Science at Western exposes students to environmental issues ranging from biodiversity loss, energy, renewable resources, to natural disasters and sustainable business practices.
  • Sunstang is a solar car project that involves students of all disciplines and faculties, and challenges students to incorporate the typical mechanical aspects of a car with customized electrical systems and solar panels to create a futuristic, eco-friendly, and competitive vehicle that can be raced at worldwide solar challenges.

Operations

  • Western Entrepreneurship and Innovation Centre is a new building set to become Western's pre-eminent interdisciplinary entrepreneurial space, and will be Western's first net-zero building.
  • The Demand Management program at Western broadens the approach to mitigating consumption during peak energy demand days throughout the summer by dialing back the air when the provincial drain on energy reaches its peak.

SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Research

Outreacheconomic development logo

  • New Western graduates will receive more local career opportunities, and London will retain more skilled talent, thanks to a new collaboration between the university and the London Economic Development Corporation. The Social Science Career Apprenticeship pilot program will help graduates from the Faculty of Social Science by creating 12-month, full-time, paid apprenticeship positions for May 2021.

Teaching

Operations

  • In 2021, Western named its first-ever equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) advisory council. Among council's initiatives are training and educational programs on employment equity & diversity, as well as employment outreach initiatives.
  • With the goal os making Western a great place to work, the WE SPEAK survey for faculty and staff helps Western to identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. More than 3,800 staff and faculty members took part in the 2020 survey.

SDG 9 - Industry, innovation, and infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

Researchcampus aerial with text overlay

  • With the goal to build infrastructure on Mars, Western engineer Jun Yang is currently perfecting artificial intelligence-enhanced methods for 3D printing in outer space. The idea is to print heavy, bulky equipment necessary for repairs and experiments using locally available materials.
  • Launched in 2020, the 5G-Connected Research Centre at Western is bringing together cutting-edge technology with research aimed at helping students thrive during their time at university.

Outreach

  • Western's Ideas for Sustainability and the Environment (WISE) competition was established to foster innovative and high-impact ideas that reduce or eliminate today's most pressing environmental concerns.
  • Born out of a partnership between Western University, Robarts Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, WORLDIscoveries draws upon a mix of industry connections, sector-specific market knowledge, and business development expertise, to help researchers and local inventors commercialize their discoveries through licensing and new company spin-offs.

Teaching

  • One of Southwestern Ontario's most active startup accelerators, the Morrissette Institute provides a co-working space, seed funding, mentorship, and training events and workshops for startups.
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering students can specialize in International Development with Structural or Environmental Engineering where they are introduced to the complex societal, environmental, political and economic issues associated with building safer communities in Canada and in the developing world.

Operations

  • Western has implemented many efficiency upgrades that have reduced energy consumption, such as: renovations of older buildings; the elimination of all domestic water-cooling use in lab equipment, coolers, and research equipment; daylight sensors and auto-dimming features; and switch to LED lighting for exterior and interior lighting in some areas.
  • Western uses solar power generation through its investments into LEED-certified buildings and solar-powered LED lamps on campus; for example, the Amit Chakma Engineering Building.

SDG 10 - Reduced inequalities

Reduce inequality within and among countries

Research

  • Western's Department of Sociology researcher Dr. Kate Choi's project, The Canadian Neighbourhood Project, examines the role of neighbourhoods in shaping our health and wellbeing. It investigates the impact of neighbourhood contexts in determining the spread of COVID-19, the interdependencies between residential and socioeconomic assimilation of immigrants, and the role of the housing market in generating socioeconomic inequalities by race, immigration cohort, and nationality.
  • The Centre for Research on Social Inequality promotes and supports innovative social science research in social inequality. Current projects focus on earnings inequality, family dynamics, and public charter schools effect on residential racial/ethnic segregation. 

Outreach

  • Held every year, International Week is an event focused on an inclusive, globally aware campus, with the goal of celebrating Western's international community, diversity and international collaborations. Events through the week engage students, faculty and staff in discussion and debate about international issues, and encourage learning about international education, intercultural skills, and cultural traditions and activities.
  • BrainsCAN is a cognitive and behavioural neuroscience research initiative at Western, with a commitment to improving the representation of marginalized groups in neuroscience.

Teaching

OperationsExterior of new Indigenous Learning Space

  • Equity & Human Rights Services at Western provides information on the university's discrimination and harassment policies, employment equity and diversity, and other human-rights related issues.
  • Indigenous Services has created Western's Indigenous Strategic Initiatives Committee which comprises Western's first-ever multi-year Indigenous Strategic Plan.

SDG 11 - Sustainable cities and communities

Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Research

  • Established by Department of Geography's professor Dr. Jason Gilliland, the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (HEAL), works on many projects with a focus on sustainable cities and communities.
  • Western researcher Carrie Anne Marshall led a community-based participatory research project aimed to identify the strengths and challenges of the system currently offered to individuals leaving homelessness in London, and to inform new strategies and/or build on existing supports.

Outreach

Teaching

  • Launched in May of 2021, Western's new Centre for Sustainable Curating looks to shed light on ecological issues and share them through stories grounded in environmental awareness.

OperationsCyclists riding on campus

  • In the summer of 2021, the 41st running of Western's Summer Shakespeare will be part of a global initiative, Cymbeline in the Anthropocene, which relates ecological values in the play to local environmental conditions in the hope of opening audiences' imaginations to new biocentric and biospheric horizons.
  • Western has a number of sustainable transportation initiatives, including EV charging stations, a subsidized bus pass program, secure bike parking areas, and an Open Space Strategy that aims to make continuous improvements to the bike- and pedestrian-path network.

SDG 12 - Responsible consumption & production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Research

Outreach

  • EnviroWestern is a student service that seeks to promote environmental sustainability at Western by leading events and initiatives to enhance student awareness of environmental issues on campus.
  • Addressing issues like biodiversity loss and climate change, WWF-Canada's Living Planet @ Campus program helps students bring environmental sustainability and conservation activities to life on their campus and in their lives.

TeachingMiddlesex College with sustainability text overlay

  • The Sustainability Guide for the Western Community provides tangible and accessible sustainable lifestyle recommendations to Western students, staff and faculty.
  • Students in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering undergraduate program at Western are trained engineers with skills to develop holistic solutions for clean water and air, carbon reduction, cleaner renewable fuels, and life-saving medicine.

Operations

  • In 2018 Western became the first university in Canada to become a Bee City Campus.
  • Residence Dining serves approximately half of their entrees meatless. Of these options, half are completely vegan.

SDG 13 - Climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Research

  • Engineering professor Andy Sun's latest partnership with a Beijing battery research company looks at solving critical and long-standing problems with battery life and safety by working towards solid-state batteries - all in an effort to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Wind Engineering, Energy and the Environment (WindEEE) Institute at Western is home to the world's first three-dimensional wind-testing chamber, allowing scientists to address important scientific, economic and societal challenges related to wind while evaluating energy potential and damage risks.

Outreach

  • Contributing to Western's zero-emissions goal, Western's first Net Zero Pitch Competition provided an opportunity to develop sustainable solutions to issues faced by Western's Facilities Management.
  • The Multi-Hazard, Risk and Resilience Group gathers researchers from different Departments and Faculties at Western and aims to address national and global challenges related to disaster risk reduction against natural catastrophe.

TeachingCity-scape of river, bridge, and downtown

  • A new major at Western, Climate Change and Society, integrates science, social science, and the humanities and aims to harness that passion and help students address the challenges the climate crisis poses.
  • Western's new course, Indigenous Peoples, Globalization and the Environment, is an examination of the natural resource development emphasizing the interplay between Indigenous peoples, the state, and international developers. 

Operations

SDG 14 - Life below water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Research

  • Brian Branfireun and his research group in the Department of Biology are investigating the landscape processes that take mercury from the atmosphere, process it through organic matter cycling, and finally export it to streams, rivers, and lakes.
  • Western professor Bryan Neff is one of the principal investigators with the newly formed GEN-FISH team from 13 academic institutions, working to determine the location and abundance of Canada's freshwater fish species and how they are performing with increasing stressors.

Outreach

  • The newly formed Marine Biology Society at Western is a student group focused on raising awareness for issues facing marine life, including plastic pollution, global warming, and oil spills.
  • Recently held at Western University, the Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research is a national conference bringing together diverse research on a variety of topics and projects within Fisheries including the science, management, and issues facing our waters and resources today.

Teaching

OperationsPerson holding up a water reusable water bottle

  • Brescia University College renewed its dedication to environmental sustainability by banning water bottle sales on campus as of September 2021 and becomes the first university in Ontario t obe awarded the Blue Community certification.
  • Serving handcrafted sushi on campus, Bento Sushi is proud to be the largest Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified restaurant chain in Canada.

SDG 15 - Life on land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss

Research

  • Douglas Woolford's research group in the Department of Statistical & Actuarial Sciences are using modern data science to better understand wildland fires.
  • Danielle Way from the Biology Department leads a lab group researching the myriad effects of a warming climate on the boreal forest.

Outreach

  • EnviroCon is an interdisciplinary conference organized annually by students of the Collaborative Graduate Program in the Centre for Environment and Sustainability.
  • Western Wildlife Conservation Society (WWCS) is a student organization dedicated to educating and increasing the involvement of the student body in wildlife conservation.

Teaching

  • Students in Honors Specialization in Biodiversity and Conservation will gain an understanding of the forces that are shaping Earth's ecosystem, including the impact of climate change on biological diversity.
  • Undergraduate students in biology will have the opportunity to carry out a research project abroad and get credit for it.

OperationsIvey garden in full bloom

  • Landscape Services at Western uses a variety of practices to support ecologically beneficial plantings across campus. Native plants are considered first in planting plans, and the right plant is selected for the right location.
  • In Western's new rain infiltration garden, low maintenance native plants help infiltrate rainwater into the ground, rather tan flow as stormwater runoff into the sewer system.

SDG 16 - Peace, justice, and strong institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Research

  • The Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction is a collaborative, interdisciplinary centre that brings together experts from across the Western community whose teaching and research focus on issues including transitional justice, reconciliation, criminal accountability, legal reconstruction, the environment, human rights, and more.
  • Surviving Memory, led by project director and Western professor Amanda Grzyb, is committed to documenting the Salvadoran civil war and preventing future violence through commemoration.

OutreachParticipant group shot of Western's model UN

  • UWO Humanitarian Society works in partnership with Canadian Red Cross to fundraise and increase awareness for humanitarian crises.
  • Western Model UN Society was founded to provide a platform for students to practice diplomacy and discuss important international political issues in a setting that simulates the actual United Nations.

Teaching

  • Western is a leader in transitional justice research and hosts the only program in North America at both the undergraduate and graduate levels that focuses on transitional justice.
  • The Local Government Program is a leader in municipal-level public administration education and offers two unique opportunities for studying the rapidly changing fields of local government and local government administration.

Operations

  • Funded by the Office of the Vice-President, the Humanitarian Award recognizes faculty, staff, and students at Western, who are engaged in a range of efforts directed towards improving the quality of life for individuals and communities around the world.
  • In alignment with Western's Sustainable Procurement Policy, Procurement Services will endeavour to purchase products and services that meet a comprehensive range of sustainability criteria that mirror the university's values, sustainability principles and goals.

SDG 17 - Partnership for the goals

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

Research

  • Ivey's Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management is an importance voice on business-government issues and develops future leaders who better understand the immense value of collaborative relationship between the public and private sectors and the development of sound policy.
  • Through support from the Weston Family Foundation's Transformational Research 2020 Grant, Dr. Vladimin Hachinski, professor of clinical neurological sciences at Western, is leading interdisciplinary research involving scientists from across Canada, the UK, and New Zealand, with the hope of developing cost-effective models of dementia prevention.

OutreachPair in front of a World Challenge Challenge banner

  • World's Challenge Challenge is an annual international competition hosted by Western in which teams from more than a dozen universities offer up their best solutions to urgent environmental, educational, and social issues. The mission of the competition is to bring together students from a wide range of institution, cultures, and continents to form a strong international network and create even greater potential solutions to significant global issues.
  • Network for Economics and Social Trends (NEST) is a flagship research and policy alliance in the Faculty of Social Science at Western that informs social and economic policy and practices in Canada and North America.

Teaching

  • Community Engaged Learning (CEL) allows students the opportunity to take their skills beyond the classroom and into the community. CEL experiences partner students with groups, individuals, and organizations in the London region and abroad to tackle important problems and issues.
  • International Learning at Western collaborates with international partners to develop, promote, and support a broad range of activities that cultivate global-ready graduates, and a community of internationally engaged faculty and staff.

Operations