Ōtautahi Christchurch universities rally Aotearoa New Zealand behind roadmap to sustainability

24 September 2020

Aotearoa New Zealand’s third SDG Summit Series, which was announced in Ōtautahi Christchurch on 25 September to mark five years since the world committed to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), will stimulate sustainability action across Aotearoa New Zealand, according to the summit’s chairperson.

  • SDG

The 17 SDGs provide a framework and global agenda to empower people and organisations to address environmental damage and climate change and create a more equitable world for all, before 2030.

The University of Canterbury (UC) and Lincoln University (LU) will co-host a series of three online hui culminating in a summit workshop in September 2021, supported by Ara Institute of Canterbury and the Christchurch City Council. 

Organisers are working with mana whenua Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Pasifika peoples, local and central government, businesses, educational organisations, NGOs and community groups to develop inclusive events that build understanding and develop actions towards achieving targeted SDGs, locally and nationally. The series is also an opportunity to reflect on achievements since the goals were ratified in 2015 and to bring these lessons into planned future actions.

Under a theme of ‘Pathways to (Urgent) Action’, each summit will feature a ‘rockstar’ sustainability speaker, local champions, activations and practical planning sessions. 

“We have already made progress against the SDG goals in Aotearoa and globally, but there is a lot more to do,” UC Sustainability Advisor and SDG Summit Series Chairperson Dr Matt Morris says.

“We are rallying Ōtautahi Christchurch and Aotearoa New Zealand to join us in finding out how to use the SDGs to do better for our world. We need to take action now and the summit series will help us understand and plan how to do that.”

Each hui will build on the previous one, taking participants on a journey “from the sea to the summit”, Dr Morris says. The series includes Online Hui #1 - See the Change, Online Hui #2 - Be the Change, Online Hui #3 - Working Together for Change and the Summit event - Collaboration for Systemic Change.

“The series begins with developing an understanding of what the SDGs are and how we individually engage with them, so this is an inclusive, entry level event – you don’t need any prior experience.

“Next we will find out how we can incorporate our new knowledge into our work to make our organisations more sustainable. We then move on to explore ways to collaborate and work together, to enable more effective responses to the SDGs across and with all sectors. The final summit will be the culmination of the journey, creating action plans for collective, transformational change.”

Ōtautahi Christchurch is taking climate change and sustainability seriously. CCC declared ‘a climate and ecological emergency’ in May 2019 and thousands joined the School Strikes 4 Climate, including LU and UC students who walked from their universities into the city to join the protest.

Since then, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused disruption, prompting many people, locally and internationally, to ask what a more sustainable and resilient post-Covid recovery might look like.

“There is so much good work happening at UC, LU and in Aotearoa New Zealand and many people who are sustainability superstars. However, we know the task we face is massive and so we need all of us on the same path and working together,” Dr Morris says.

“Together, right here in Ōtautahi, we can achieve positive change.”

The Aotearoa SDG Summit Series was launched at The SDG Art Exhibition Launch Night, hosted by the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Christchurch Hub on 25 September.

Dates for the Aotearoa SDG Summit Series will be available soon. To find out more join the Aotearoa SDG Summit Series Facebook page and LinkedIn Page.  

More about the SDGs:

The SDGs build on their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals, but are much broader. They are designed as a guide for all peoples and nations to achieve a sustainable present and future.

The historic SDG agenda, entitled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” included the 17 SDGs. The 193 UN member states agreed on the agenda.

“It is a roadmap to ending global poverty, building a life of dignity for all and leaving no one behind. It is also a clarion call to work in partnership and intensify efforts to share prosperity, empower people’s livelihoods, ensure peace and heal our planet for the benefit of this and future generations,” former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the time.

The new agenda is people-centred, universal, transformative and integrated. It calls for action by all countries for all people over the next 15 years in five areas of critical importance: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. The agenda recognises that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with a plan that builds economic growth and addresses a range of social needs, while tackling climate change.

UC Communications team, media@canterbury.ac.nz, Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168

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