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Higher Education Sustainability Initiative Global Event
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI), a partnership between United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNESCO, United Nations Environment, UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, United Nations University (UNU), UN-HABITAT, UNCTAD, and UNITAR, was created in 2012 in the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). With commitments from over 300 universities from around the world, HESI accounted for more than one-third of all the voluntary commitments that were launched at Rio+20.

Through its strong association with the United Nations, HESI provides a unique space for higher education institutions with a unique interface between higher education, science, and policy making across the UN.

On the occasion of the 2019 session of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development – the United Nations’ central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - the HESI partners are organizing an event for higher education institutions and other interested stakeholders.

The event will explore how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is changing the way higher education institutions are working and how they engage critically with the SDGs, with a specific focus on SDG 4 (Quality Education), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 17 (Partnership for the Goals). The event will seek to generate a new commitment and vision for the kind of impact that partners are collectively having on this agenda. It will look to build on the work of the SDG Accord – see more at – which has five core areas of work including:

  1. Teaching sustainable development across all disciplines of study, including through online based platforms,
  2. Encouraging research and dissemination of sustainable development knowledge,
  3. Green campuses and supporting local sustainability efforts,
  4. Engaging and share information with international networks,
  5. Engaging universities in local and national government, as well as city development projects.

For this HESI event, the ambition will be to introduce a new vision for this Initiative and coalesce a range of actors on a joint agenda and showcase SDG good practices by Higher Education Institutions, organisations and their partners. This will explore questions such as:

  • Youth employment: Given young people are the main beneficiaries of higher education, what more could universities be offering to building the skillset, place the sign-posts and work with public / private sector to create more green collar jobs?
  • Private sector perspectives: Are companies hiring the right kind of young talent with the right kind of skills for the sustainability and energy transformation the world needs to undertake?
  • Green campus vs Green choices: Given the biggest sustainability legacy of higher education is not in infrastructure investments, but the mindsets and behaviors of students that live for a further 70 years, is enough measurable and discernible action being taken around influencing sustainable lifestyles?
  • Incentives: What incentives matter the most to Universities when it comes to engaging with the Agenda and associated SDGs and investing in sustainability?

Logistical Details: The event will take place 10 July 3 – 6 pm at the UN HQ as part as the HLPF and is open to participants from the fields education, youth leadership, private sector, government and diplomatic fields, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders. This will be organized with live social media interaction so that questions and a discussion can be held and built upon for those not in New York.

In the evening, the International Green Gown Awards Ceremony will be taking place at the Institute of International Education (opposite the UN building). The Drinks Reception starts at 6.15 pm and the Ceremony starts at 7.00 pm. Entry is by invitation only. For full details please visit t

Registration is now closed.

United Nations