United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development
Higher Education Sustainability Initiative
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) is an open partnership between several United Nations entities and the higher education community launched in the lead-up to the Rio+20 Conference in 2012. It is currently chaired by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the Sulitest Association - a non-profit organization and online platform aimed at improving sustainability literacy for all. Other UN partners include UNESCO, UN Environment Programme, UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative, UN University, UN-HABITAT, UNCTAD, UNITAR, and UN Office for Partnerships.

Through its strong association with the United Nations, HESI aims to provide higher education with an interface between higher education, science, and policy making by raising the profile of higher education’s sector in supporting sustainable development, convening multi-stakeholder discussions and action, and sharing best practices.

HESI+10 Global Forum, 6 July 2022

Each year, HESI organizes a global forum as a special event to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) – UN’s main platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the global level - to highlight the critical role of higher education in achieving sustainable development.

The HESI+10 Global Forum, which was held on 6 July 2022 as a virtual event, placed a particular focus on deepening the understanding of the challenges and opportunities the higher education community can play in building back better from the COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in line with the theme of HLPF in 2022.

The HESI Community

Any higher education institution or university network may join HESI. By joining you will receive updates on ongoing activities, be invited and considered as a contributor or speaker to events, webinars, action groups and other related activities.

Now available - HESI Partner Programme

The aim of the HESI Partner Programme is to connect higher education institutions, networks, and student organizations to create a community of shared learning in support of SDG integration into curricula, research, programmes and campus practices and facilitate transfer of knowledge.

Three webinars on topics related the theme of 2022 HLPF were held in the lead-up to the Global Forum. The discussions of the webinars fed into the discussions of the forum.

Webinar 1 - Transformation of higher education post COVID-19 (27 April 2022)

The disruptions that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to societies, including in the education sector, is unprecedented. The webinar explored how the pandemic has transformed higher education’s approaches to education and learning, its ability to reach and engage students, including challenges and inequalities for those that lack capacities for rapid digital transformations and online learning.

Webinar 2 - Integrating Sustainable Development Goals into higher education (1 June 2022)

On 01 June 2022, the second HESI+10 Webinar on “Integrating Sustainable Development Goals into higher education”, organized by DSDG, took place lining up to the preparation for the HESI+10 Global Forum (to be held on 6 July as a special event during HLPF 2022). The webinar, attended by 70+ participants from various sectors, explored explore different approaches to integrating SDGs into higher education, through research, teaching, and learning. Speakers included the United Nations University, Iscte Business School, University of the West Indies, PRME Working Group Sustainability Mindset, IPB University and Monash Sustainable Development Institute & Climateworks Centre. The discussion was moderated by Jean-Christophe Carteron from Sulitest. The next webinar in the series will take place on 21 June to showcase “Inspirational higher education initiatives for SDG 4, 5, 14, 15 and 17

Webinar 3 - Inspirational higher education initiatives for SDG 4, 5, 14, 15 and 17 (21 June 2022)

As 2022 marks 10 years since the establishment of the HESI network, the webinar and the forum will highlight and celebrate key higher education initiatives that drive implementation of the 2030 Agenda through education, teaching and learning - particularly around SDGs under review at HLPF (Goal 4, 5, 14, 15, 17).

Action Groups

Each year, HESI designates Action Groups to tackle topics related to higher education for sustainable development. Action Groups draw upon the full HESI community to carry out its work and is often composed of several organizations and contributors. Results are published on the HESI website and promoted by the network.

Group Objective Year started Coordinators & Contributors Annual progress reports

HESI Partner Programme

The aim of the HESI Partner Programme is to connect higher education institutions, networks, and student organizations to create a community of shared learning in support of SDG integration into curricula, research, programmes and campus practices and facilitate transfer of knowledge. The programme will draw from the diverse knowledge and experience of those working in different circumstances. A fundamental principle of the group is that everyone has something to offer, regardless of their stage in integrating the SDGs into their curricula, research, programmes or campus practices. All interested HESI members are welcome to apply to the part of the HESI Partner Programme. 2022 Coordinators:
  • Ola Goransson, UN DESA
  • Jean-Christophe Carteron, Sulitest

Contributors: To be added

Rankings, ratings, and assessments

Rankings, ratings, and assessment (RRA) organizations have significant influence - and thus significant responsibility - to guide the academic sector. As we approach the threshold of irreversible climate change, many of these have recognized the need to change their criteria for assessment of the performance of higher education institutions to include contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Numerous initiatives aimed either at improving current standards or creating new ones have emerged. 2021
  • Duncan Ross, Times Higher Education
  • Fiona Goodwin, EAUC
  • Meghan Fay Zahniser, AASHE
  • Sam Barratt, UNEP
  • Julia Christensen, Yorkville University
  • John North, GRLI
  • Florencia Librizzi, Sulitest
  • Meredith Storey, SDSN
  • Jean-Christophe Carteron, Sulitest
  • Debra Rowe, President, US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development
  • Kathleen Ng, HEASC
  • Heather McShane, McGill University

Education for Green Jobs

The Education for Green Jobs initiative focuses on :

  • Supporting curricula updates to build the workforce we need for a sustainable and inclusive future;
  • Improving education, career advising and job placement processes to promote green and sustainability careers;
  • Enhancing communication processes between employers and educators around workforce needs for ongoing improvements.
2021 Coordinators:
  • Debra Rowe, President, US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development
  • Evangeline Mengelkoch, Climate Fellow, Youth for Climate Education Coalition
  • Noemie Metais, Education and Advocacy Officer, UNEP-YEA

Contributors:
  • Daniel Dang, SolarPower Europe
  • Suranjana Ghosh, Power for All
  • Isabel Toman, International Association of Universities
  • Tammy Mayer, REN21
  • Jadesola Iyowu, International Fellow, US Partnership for Education for Sustainable
  • Development
  • Amanda Lange Salvia, University of Passo Fundo
  • Amber Reader, Change the Chamber

SDG Publishers Compact

The SDG Publishers Compact, launched by the International Publishers Association and the United Nations back in 2020, has continued to gather momentum for the wider publishing sector and is a focus area to amplify. In practice, the Compact requires aligning daily practices, content, and measures of success with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One sector accelerating progress has been academic publishing. 2020 Coordinators:
  • Debra Rowe, President, US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development
  • Julia Christensen Hughes, President, Yorkville University

Contributors:
  • Stuart Cooper, ScienceOpen
  • David Steingard, Saint Joseph's University
  • Roger Worthington, Independent Researcher
  • Gerald Beasley, Cornell University
  • Victoria Gardner, Taylor & Francis Group
  • Arend Kuester, Springer Nature
  • Claire Jackson, Emerald Publishing
  • Dana Compton, American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Hannah Ells, Cengage
  • Jason Maitland, Sustainability Institute of Trinidad and Tobago
  • Derek Lough, Illinois State University
  • Nicola Jones, Springer Nature
  • Nikita Lad, George Mason University
  • Ratna Lindawati Lubis, Telkom University
  • Simon Linacre, previously Cabells
  • Lucas Toutloff, Cabells
  • Chirag Jay Patel, Cactus Communications

HESI Community

The HESI network consists of several UN partners, university networks, student organizations, and a number of higher education institutions - that together form the HESI Community. Please visit our HESI Community page to see all members.

Partners

Co-chairs

2022

  • UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) (Mr. Ola Goransson)
  • Sulitest (Mr. Jean-Christophe Carteron)

2019 - 2021

  • UNEP (Mr. Sam Barratt)
  • Sustainable Development Solutions Network (Ms. Florencia Librizzi)

2012 - 2019

  • UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)

UN Partners

  • UN DESA
  • UNESCO
  • UN Environment Programme
  • UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME)
  • UN University
  • UN-HABITAT
  • UNCTAD
  • UNITAR
  • UN Office for Partnerships