The Worldwide Universities Network has launched an exciting new initiative to promote international collaborations among future research leaders and advance progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The program, which will create networking opportunities for early-career researchers across the WUN, is a collaboration with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
At the launch event, Jeffrey Sachs, President of SDSN, made a powerful appeal to scholars to apply their ingenuity and expertise to the transformative vision of Agenda 2030, which he described as ‘a mode of global socio-economic development that is conducive of prosperity, of social inclusion, and of environmental sustainability.’ The SDGs translate this vision into 17 priority areas for action.
Future research leaders have an important role to play in this ‘intergenerational stewardship’, Sachs argued. ‘We need a new approach to how our economies and societies function and we need technological transformations that will enable us to benefit from technology, and to continue to enjoy improving living standards, especially in places that are still poor today, but in a way that is consistent with environmental sustainability and social justice.’
The quest for new solutions requires the collaborative and interdisciplinary mobilisation of research—a core goal of this new initiative. ‘These are not beyond our capacity to solve,’ Sachs reflected, ‘but they are hugely challenging problems. It could not be a more exciting time for us as researchers and a more gratifying time to be engaged in problem-solving for sustainable development.’
WUN is uniquely positioned to contribute to this global effort. As WUN Executive Director Peter Lennie noted, ‘what’s striking is that the challenges in reaching the Global Goals, although they’ll depend to a considerable extent on securing advances in the basic sciences, are in many important respects even more dependent on changing behaviour—about getting people to do things differently and exploit technological and basic science solutions differently and in a coordinated way everywhere around the world.’ WUN supports the development of innovative solutions to these challenges by enabling interdisciplinary, comparative analysis grounded in different geographical, cultural, and legal contexts. As part of this commitment, WUN has embedded sustainable development as the network’s overall research theme in its strategic plan.
The series of online workshops co-convened with SDSN and UNESCO extends WUN’s established record of promoting original international research collaborations and mobility. Although it responds to the constraints imposed by the COVID19 pandemic, Lennie indicated, the series is not intended merely as a stop-gap measure but aims to nurture research talent for future leadership and impact. Each workshop will focus on a specific Sustainable Development Goal, exploring the challenges it poses to researchers and facilitating diverse and dynamic connections.
If you’d like to subscribe to program announcements for the WUN Early Career Researcher International Network Development Program, please sign up at this link. Opportunities for upcoming networking events will also be announced on Twitter: follow us at @WUNetwork and join the conversation using the hashtag #WUNECR.