How You Can Support UN SDGs

Written by Trevor Lowden

Hey Lions! Do you ever wonder how you can use what you learn in the classroom and translate it into making a positive difference in the world?

You may not realize it, but you’re at a place where you can start to do just that during your studies. York University has pledged to become an agent of positive change. The University committed to supporting the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an urgent call for action by all countries in a global partnership to end poverty and other deprivations.

A huge part of that contribution can be done from the classes you take throughout your degree. Read on to find out more about the 17 SDGs and how students have already contributed to creating positive change, as well as how you can too.

SDG 1: No Poverty

Nearly half of the world’s population lives in poverty, and lack of food and clean water is killing thousands every single day of the year. York University students have worked in partnership with IBM and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to create a workable solution to help address the needs of residents from lower-income households and break the cycle of poverty for Canadian newcomers.

SDG 2: End Hunger

Hunger is the leading cause of death in the world. One York alumna, Seema Sanghavi, partnered with charities dedicated to reducing food waste to create Cooks Who Feed, a business that helps those in need. Working with trained seamstresses, Cooks Who Feed produces aprons that are sold to provide meals for the hungry; profits from the sale of a single apron provide 100 meals.

SDG 3: Good Health & Well-being

Healthy lifestyles, preventive measures and modern, efficient healthcare should be available to everyone. York researchers have already received federal funding to lead national disease modelling efforts, including the One Health Modelling Network, a new network for emerging infections to refine the disease modelling used to identify pathogens early.

SDG 4: Quality Education

Not everyone has access to all educational levels, and the opportunity to train on relevant skills for development and financial success. York University is part of a consortium of Kenyan and Canadian universities and NGOs that aims to make educational programs available where refugees need them.

SDG 5: Gender Equality

Gender bias is undermining our social fabric and we need to help empower all women and girls. York has several organizations devoted to this SDG, including the University-wide committee SEXGEN that is responsible for advising and advocating around issues and concerns of sexual and gender diversity, as well as clubs like the Women’s Empowerment Club. York also offers an entrepreneurship program, the Entrepreneurial Leadership & Learning Alliance, that was created by women, for women.

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

One in three people live without sanitation. By providing affordable equipment, management and education in hygiene practices, unnecessary disease and death could be stopped. At York, students contributed to designing a system that monitors water quality in remote communities across the country. It then relays important information back to the residents of those regions.

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

By implementing new energy solutions, we can counter climate change, one of the biggest threats to our own survival. An interdisciplinary team of York students worked with the Markham Environmental Advisory Committee on a fossil fuel and CO2 reduction initiative.

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Economic growth should be a positive force for the whole planet. This is why we must make sure that financial progress creates decent and fulfilling jobs while not harming the environment. York’s School of Continuing Studies partnered with Lightcast Data to create CareerBrain, a data-driven career navigator that can lead students to new career ideas they never would have imagined for themselves.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

This ensures the promotion of innovative sustainable technologies and ensures equal and universal access to information and financial markets, creating jobs and making sure that we build stable and prosperous societies across the globe.

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

Income inequality needs to be addressed, as well as tackling social, economic and political inclusion and creating policies that promote equality. York helped create the first-ever international Indigenous student exchange program which brings together Indigenous students from York and partner institutions from a variety of countries.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Modern urban planning should be about creating safe, affordable cities with green and culturally inspiring living conditions as the world’s population constantly increases. York is a testing site for a new three-wheel electric vehicle that also includes establishing a campus dealership to explore ideal pricing.

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

We all know that climate change is a huge threat to our future and the future of our planet and its natural resources. In an effort to promote the climate change research happening at York and mobilize the community to take action, the University’s Organized Research Units held their first Climate Change Research Month in March 2022.

Did you know? York is home to the Ontario Climate Data Portal?

SDG 14: Life Below Water

Healthy oceans and seas are essential to our existence. They cover 70 percent of our planet and we rely on them for food, energy and water. We need to reverse the damage humans have done and protect our marine resources.

SDG 15: Life on Land

There is a need to promote sustainable use of our ecosystems and preserve biodiversity. Principal investigators at York are collaborating on the development of policies and environmental management for the long-term sustainability of bees and the vital ecosystem services they provide.

SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

We need to tackle abuse, organized crime, corruption and violence through global standards of justice. York University’s new Emergency Student Support Fund provides essential financial assistance to students affected by conflicts, natural disasters and other geopolitical events and crises. It helps ensure that at-risk and affected students can pursue or continue their education safely.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

We can’t do this alone. That’s why York fosters global partnerships, international investments and support to ensure innovative technological development, fair trade and market access, especially for developing countries. York has over 300 global experiential learning partners and has joint collaborations with intergovernmental organizations.

So when you’re enrolling in classes for next term, next year or thinking of pursuing graduate studies at York, keep these in mind! Who knows? Maybe you can help change the world!