Flying the flag for sustainable development

UN SDG flag on top of UCL Portico
UN SDG flag on top of UCL Portico

Today UCL is flying a flag to raise awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the urgent need to achieve them.

The 17 SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, are the core of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, they provide a framework for the world’s ongoing economic growth, while protecting the environment and addressing societal inequalities. The UN aims to achieve the Goals by 2030.

The Goals range from ’Decent Work & Economic Growth’ and ’Good Health & Well-being’ to ’Climate Action’ and ’Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure’.

UCL joins hundreds of organisations around the globe which are flying the SDG flag and mobilising stakeholders for the 2030 agenda.

To maximise its impact on the Goals, UCL established the UCL SDGs Initiative in 2020-21. Simon Knowles, who leads the Initiative said: "Thousands of our staff and students are already helping to address the Goals through their research, teaching and learning, and student societies and volunteering activities.

"Through the Initiative we are helping to stimulate and facilitate even more SDGs-related activities across UCL."

There are hundreds of projects at UCL addressing the SDGs, including, to name a few: researchers working with Rohingya refugees living in areas prone to cyclones, floods and landslides, to help build their resilience to future extreme weather events; the Healthy Street Index, developed at UCL, giving a measure of a street’s ’healthiness’ to help people choose places to live and travel routes while informing more sustainable town planning; and a quintet of student musicians performing classical music concerts for socially disadvantaged elderly people to support their health and wellbeing.

September 2023 marks eight years since the world agreed the SDGs. Flying the flag coincides with the UN’s annual SDGs Summit, which it is using to highlight the lack of progress towards the Goals and urging the world to redouble its efforts.

Simon added: "Not nearly enough progress is being made by the world achieving the Goals. Universities like UCL need to keep playing their part by working in collaboration with academic, community and industry partners across the globe."

Last year, a team at UCL’s Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP) made major contributions to ’Measuring Up 2.0’, a recent report that measured the UK’s performance towards the SDGs - and showed poor progress against the country achieving most targets.

The SDG Flag Campaign started in The Netherlands in 2020 and has grown to see hundreds of businesses, government departments, civil society organisations and schools raise an SDG flag each September to mark the adoption of the SDGs.

Related links

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