In 2015, countries around the world, including Canada, adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
, a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. Agenda 2030, as it is known, offers a unique opportunity for post-secondary institutions to lead transformative change.

The Towards Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy commits to investing resources in areas like science, innovation, technology, and partnerships to accelerate achievement toward the SDGs. In 2019, CICan received federal funding to develop resources and to work across the sector to advance the SDGs by leveraging the creativity and ingenuity of Canadian colleges and institutes.  This work aligns well with CICan’s strategic commitment to building system capacity for Better futures for peoples and communities – a commitment that is even more critical as we recover from the global pandemic. Colleges and institutes will play a critical role in transitioning to a low carbon and socially just economic recovery, to reconciliation, and to Build Back Better in Canada. 

“Colleges are hearing – and heeding – the call from students and employers: invest in sustainability”

-Maclean’s 2021 Colleges Guidebook


This guide has been developed as a resource to highlight the important work underway at colleges and institutes, by providing examples that range from student engagement to campus development, and illustrating how the system is advancing Canada’s commitment to the SDGs. There are a growing number of SDG resources being developed internationally for higher education, however, this one is specifically about Canadian colleges and institutes. It was developed with the direction of a working group comprised of members from several Canadian institutions, CICan staff and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Canada. The initial examples in the guide were collected through a college survey administered to all colleges and institutes in the spring 2020 and is updated quarterly to continue to share examples and projects happening on campuses today. The examples represent best practices of institutions under the categories of AcademicFinance and AdministrationApplied ResearchPhysical InfrastructureCommunity and Students, Governance and International. Each example provides at least one college contact where more information can be obtained and includes links to additional information.

Along with inspiring examples from across the system, the guide includes tips for implementing the SDGs in your institution which have been thoughtfully constructed by leaders from Canadian institutions. The last section of the guide provides links to resources from the around the globe. Additionally, the guide will be supported by further structural resources, such as an institution-to-institution mentorship framework and catalogue of experts who can be consulted for further advice and guidance.

This guide is for our colleges and developed by our colleges. Use it as a toolkit to get started on your institutional journey to embrace the SDGs, support your communities, and develop the next generation of leaders and change makers in our rapidly changing world.


“UNESCO’s education sector, including technical and vocational education and training (TVET), currently finds itself at a crossroads. The end of the Education for All (EFA) movement, and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations Summit in September 2015, highlights the need to reconsider the role of the education sector in a more globalized world, accentuated by interlinkages between social, economic and environmental issues.”

– UNESCO (2015). UNESCO TVET Strategy 2016-2021. Bonn, Germany


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