Centre for Global Sustainability Studies (CGSS), Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Topic: Sustainable development goals
  • Location: PENANG, MALAYSIA
  • Date of completion: 01 Nov 2015
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Professor Kamarulazizi Ibrahim, Director, CGSS, USM, kamarul@usm.my

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In Support of Rio+20 Future We Want
This initiative is in support of paragraph 246 of the Rio+20 outcome document, the Future We Want

Description/achievement of initiative

The major mission of CGSS is to promote education and research based capacity building for the implementation of sustainable development (SD) with a 'bottom billion' focus. Our teaching involves a first year SD course and a Masters level sustainability practitioners programme (MDP). Our research is geared to reducing the risk of communities and stakeholder groups towards achieving their SD goals by enhancing resilience through targeted projects and processes. Our projects have a direct impact on low income communities, business and schools. Knowledge based interactions with government and the policy community forms an integral part of our work.

Implementation methodologies

We work closely with other USM disciplines, Students, Stakeholder groups, Ministries and departments, UN system bodies, Global change networks and Universities. CGSS is the Secretariat to the University Sustainability Council, Chaired by the President, and we are a think tank, overall platform and a catalyst for sustainability implementation. Using the USM-APEX* (*Accelerated Programme for Excellence awardee of the then Ministry of Higher Education, 2008) Sustainability Roadmap, the Sustainability Policy of USM 2013, the APEX Phase I & II implementation logframe and the sustainability implementation guide, CGSS helps promote sustainability at USM. We have developed a unique Sustainability Assessment Methodology (SAM) and a set of indicator based Sustainability Worksheets to monitor and to assist in sustainability integration. SAM is currently being computerized. We coordinate a first year Sustainability course, the MDP graduate program, seek funding and support interdisciplinary research, transdisciplinary policy dialogue & research and cross-disciplinary sustainability stakeholder consultation, and engage with international partners. We work closely with local government, NGOs, industry, business and community groups to implement 'community based projects.

Our interest in SDGs is part of this wider and deeper engagement by design and by choice.

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

We have been working on a set of sustainability goals (SDGs) in the lead-up to and as part of our post-RIO+20 initiatives. We have developed a Concept Paper on SDGs which identifies 6 Goals, 4 Targets per Goal and ideas for country specific activities. As a National Member of UN SDSN in Malaysia and as the Secretariat of South East Asian Sustainability Network, we hope to strengthen links, teamwork and partnerships within our universities in SE-Asia and internationally to promote SDGs. In this context, CGSS is preparing to attend the UN OWG 5 in Nov 2013. Our SDG Concept paper has already been sent to ICSU Paris and UN OWG Secretariat. In order to promote sustainability in general and to highlight the need for overall awareness and capacity building, CGSS has organised a Post Rio+20 International Conference on 'WEHAB + 3' (water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity + climate change/DRR; production/consumption and population/poverty), including a two-day training workshop on 'Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Development (DRM-SD), 28 - 31 Oct to 01 Nov 2013.

We believe that all of the above are knowledge based engagements and we ensure appropriate technology and knowledge transfer from USM to students and stakeholder partners.

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure

CGSS is a Centre within the Second oldest University (USM) within Malaysia and we are governed by the guidelines of the university. We report directly to the Vice-Chancellor through the different committee structures in place.

Our core funding comes from the university and further growth is based on project level involvement.

Our structure involves Director, Deputy Director, Senior academics, research staff, technical and administrative staff and Fellows (Professors).

We entertain, visiting staff and staff attachments.

We have a CGSS Executive Board and an Advisory Board that decide the major policies and their implementation.

Our Fellows (two dozen) are senior Professors from across the disciplines of USM and they participate on a project by project basis and represent the core knowledge base for our engagement, be they teaching, research or community engagement.

The administrative matters are managed by an Assistant Registrar, Financial Manager and a Scientific Officer.
We have staff in charge of National activities and regional & international engagement.


United Nations Univerity (RCE-Penang); UNESCO (UNDESD, Consultation, Publications, ); UNDP (Rio+20 national consultations, SDGs), Earth Institute of Columbia University (Masters in Development Practice); SEASN & APUCEN (University SD Networks); Ministry of Education and the Economic Planning Unit of Malaysia (ESD & SD implementation); NGOs, Industry and Community (Applied research, awareness and capacity building); Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research (Research and Capacity building project implementation); Sustainable Development solutions Network (SDSN - National member); Future Earth Programme (active participant) and partnership with other Universities and researchers internationally.
Deliverable Date
Formal and non-formal University courses, programmes and projects (on-going) 2009
Policy, Knowledge transfer and Networking services and products (on-going) 2009
Process, Basic, Action and Sustainability research projects (on-going) 2011
SD Indicators, SDGs development and engagement with UN OWG and Global change partners 2012-2015
Resources devoted to implementation
Type Details
Financing (in USD) $500,000
Staff / Technical expertise Our Centre has about 15 staff at any given time + Sr. Fellows
In-kind contribution We organise conferences, training, outreaches, policy discussions, publications
Other, please specify We are heavily networked both within and outside USM, natioanlly and internationally

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