The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all the member states of the United Nations in 2015, depicted a shared blueprint for people, planet and prosperity. In the face of various challenges – ranging from poverty and pollution to climate change and Covid-19 – the concerted efforts of all members of society are urgently needed in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. In response to the UN Secretary-General’s global call for a decade of action, accelerated implementation efforts are needed to ensure a better and more sustainable future for all.
Universities are particularly well-placed to contribute to the creation of a sustainable future through their teaching and research activities. As a socially responsible and globally-minded higher education institution, Zhejiang University (ZJU) aspires to make a distinctive and positive impact by strengthening its commitment to the SDGs.
In order to enhance our engagement with the SDGs, we are adopting a Sustainability Action Plan: A Global ZJU for Social Good (Z4G). Z4G establishes five objectives and associated actions to improve our sustainability-related education, research, and practices within the ZJU community and among other stakeholders in China and beyond.
Advocating for Responsible Sustainability
Universities are the lighthouses of human civilization. Students and staff are the advocates, practitioners and disseminators of the concept and ideology of sustainability. We must ensure that this concept is deeply rooted in the culture of our campus. Through a variety of interregional and international exchanges, we will enable our community to understand the importance of working together across cultures for common goals. We will guide our staff and students to follow the principles and practices of sustainable development, and thus to become a driving force for achieving the SDGs. We will disseminate knowledge and best practices regarding sustainability through our global network. In this way, we will be able to forge a stronger consensus on sustainable development through the use of advanced green technology, cleaner production and a circular economy.
Educating for a Sustainable Future
Education is the fundamental force that can raise public awareness of sustainable development and facilitate societal transition. We will adapt proactively to the new educational paradigm driven by information technology and cognitive science, while fully harnessing ZJU’s distinctive educational environment. Through a series of themed courses and international programs, we will strive to nurture visionary and responsible citizens who will be able to meet the future needs of sustainable development. Meanwhile, in line with emerging trends, we will try to break through the time and space constraints of conventional education by exploring virtual, interactive and future-facing learning paradigms. In this way, we will seek to prototype innovative and sustainable models of education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Advancing Scientific Collaborations
More than ever, the fusion of knowledge is blurring the lines between disciplines. No single discipline can adequately describe and resolve the complex real-world problems that we face today. With their unique strengths ranging across different branches of learning, research universities have a significant role to play in supplying innovative solutions for sustainable development. In support of Innovation 3.0, the ongoing next-generation innovation paradigm, we will create a university-centred ecosystem characterized by interdisciplinarity and cross-sector interactions. This will enable us to integrate various resources and actors of innovation to drive technological advances and inform policy-making in areas including – but not limited to – water, climate, food, environment, energy, health and poverty reduction.
Partnering for Collective Well-Being
Sustainable development calls for collective resolve, wisdom and action. We will embrace the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, pursue our global strategy “CREATE to Impact”, and promote the sharing of scientific knowledge. We will further expand our international partnerships, and we will continue to sustain and deepen collaborations with partner universities, enterprises, international organizations and consortia. Adopting an SDG-focused perspective, we will foster a strong network comprising academia, government and the private sector, allowing us to take a co-operative approach to regional and global development challenges.
Creating Greener Campuses
A university campus is a microcosm of the world. We must take an active leadership role in the creation of green and low-carbon campuses. By drawing on the considerable experience of world-class campuses and unleashing the multidisciplinary synergy of the university, we will strive to position ZJU as a leader of low-carbon action and transform our campuses into resource-conserving and environmentally friendly living laboratories. To that end, we will further strengthen our capacity for digital and ecological governance, encourage healthy lifestyles and ways of working, and promote green, smart and circular development patterns.