Oct. 6, 2017

UCalgary wins prestigious national sustainability award

Global Compact Network Canada recognizes progress toward goals

UCalgary has won a Global Compact Network Canada 2017 SDG Award recognizing the university’s efforts toward meeting the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals by 2030. The awards were presented in Toronto last week.

“Any award is special to receive but this one is particularly meaningful for us,” says Aine Keogh, associate director in UCalgary’s Office of Sustainability. “Usually we compare ourselves to others in higher education, but this time we were being compared to all Canadian organizations — including large companies like Telus and Suncor.” Keogh and Nalini Andrade, manager International Development at UCalgary, were in Toronto to accept UCalgary’s award in the large organization category. Pictured above, Keogh, right, and Andrade, accept the SDG award from Helle Bank Jorgensen, president, Global Compact Network Canada.

The winners of the SDG awards are chosen through a public voting process. There are six winners — three large organization and three small to medium organizations. The other two winners in the large organization category were Frontera Energy and BASF Canada. (All the winners were present to ring the closing bell at the Toronto Stock Exchange).

“When people think of sustainability leaders they often go straight to thinking about businesses,” says Keogh. “At the awards ceremony, I shared an overview of what we’ve achieved here at UCalgary and people were very inspired. They found the sustainability research that we’re doing and the skills in sustainability that our graduates gain really compelling.”

The university’s award’s submission, which showcased work on and off campus that’s taking us closer to meeting the SGD goals, was prepared jointly by the Office of Sustainability and UCalgary International. “This is a great example of the interconnectivity of the SDGs and how we need to come together and work in collaboration to achieve these goals,” says Andrade.

The University of Calgary is the winner in the large organizations category.

The University of Calgary is the winner in the large organizations category.

The submission, which reflects UCalgary’s International Strategy, outlines how the university is helping achieve eight of the 17 SDGs: No Poverty; Zero Hunger; Gender Equality; Good Health and Well-Being; Clean Water and Sanitation; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Climate Action and Partnerships for the Goals. 

“As a university we have a unique position to bring stakeholders together to leverage our strengths to tackle the complex global challenges facing our world today,” says Andrade. “Our research has the potential to positively impact thousands of lives and we train future leaders who will go on make a difference.”

The university’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy advances all aspects of sustainability — environmental, economic, social and wellness — and weaves them through teaching, research, community engagement and daily campus operations. It also supports the university’s many connections to outside organizations and governments to help address international sustainable development challenges.

“We have sustainability woven into our strategic plans — this guides the work we do collectively as an institution. That’s why it’s so special to receive this prestigious recognition,” says Keogh. “It confirms for us that what we’re doing is unique, worthwhile and admired in the community.”