UCL Global


UCL joins global partners highlighting need to address the UN SDGs

30 March 2021

Dr Michael Spence was among a host of global university leaders to sign a joint statement reaffirming collective commitment to the UN’s 2030 Agenda

Screenshot of global university presidents at the ZJU event

On 24 March 2021, UCL President & Provost Dr Michael Spence joined more than 50 other university leaders from 30 countries and regions at the Role of Universities in the 2030 Agenda, a virtual forum hosted by Zhejiang University (ZJU), China.

A number of UCL’s key global partners were also in attendance including Peking University, University of Sydney, Yale University, National University of Singapore, Tohoku University and the University of Toronto, as well as several UN high-ranking officials.

The 58 university leaders signed a joint statement to reaffirm the global higher education community’s collective commitment to work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In a keynote speech at the event, Dr Spence stressed the need to champion international, inter-institutional and cross-disciplinary solutions to challenges at local, national and global levels. He said: “By doing this, we hope we will not only make UCL a more attractive place to study and work, and make our graduates more attractive to employers, but also help us clearly demonstrate and communicate how we and our local and global partners are coming together to make a difference to people’s lives.”

He also highlighted that UCL cannot address global problems and deliver true impact on its own: “We can only achieve this by, firstly, listening to others who may know more than us, and, more broadly, by providing opportunities for more and deeper local and global partnerships, with other universities, governments, policymakers, industries and local communities, not just around the world, but also those close to our campus.”

Stating his view on the role of innovation-driven universities in the 2030 Agenda, Professor Wu Zhaohui, President of Zhejiang University, said: “They should further unleash their unique potentials in terms of education, research and partnership to make substantial contributions.”

Hosted virtually by ZJU, the forum was livestreamed to over one million viewers around the globe via different social media platforms, helping to forge a dialogue on scaling up efforts to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.

UCL and ZJU have worked in partnership for several years. In 2019, former UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur led a visit to ZJU, and the deans of the four UCL faculties in which UCL had the strongest links renewed an institutional-level Memorandum of Understanding. 

Earlier this year, UCL and ZJU awarded eight projects up to £10,000 each through a joint funding call for the development of collaborative research and education initiatives.

In October 2020, the UCL Global Engagement Office and UCL Grand Challenges jointly hosted a two-week virtual conference, Beyond Boundaries: Realising the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which reached an audience of over 1,350 people from almost 60 countries.

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