Our country, and indeed the world, is facing unprecedented and simultaneous threats to human well-being. Many of these have emerged over years, even decades, but the global pandemic of 2020 has exposed and exacerbated them, galvanizing a new sense of urgency and unity of purpose across Canada.
In 2015, 193 members of the United Nations ratified the 2030 Agenda, long before the world had heard of Covid-19, but when it was already abundantly clear that current systems were failing both people and planet. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that underpin the 2030 Agenda serve as a roadmap and a clarion call for concerted, collaborative change in the way we have ordered our world.
Today, at the beginning of the last decade in which to correct course and ensure a sustainable, just, prosperous future for all, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is pleased to release a practical guide to the SDGs that highlights some emerging and exemplary best practices in our member institutions, to spur all of us on to do better faster.
CICan launched a new 5-year strategic plan in 2019 with an inspiring vision of Better Futures for Peoples and Communities. Colleges, institutes, polytechnics and cégeps already act as catalysts for that vision, helping individuals and local economies become prosperous and resilient and contributing to the achievement of Canada’s international commitments. However, we can do much more. Our members are located coast-to-coast-to-coast, in communities very large and very small, with 96% of Canadians living within 50 kms of one of our locations. Together, with the SDGs as our inspiration and guide, we can: train and retrain a green workforce; act as incubators and accelerators for clean tech and emerging low carbon industries; support the mental and physical well-being of our students; and educate a future generation of leaders committed to sustainability in every practical field of human endeavour.
In coordination with the launch of this SDG Toolkit for Canadian Colleges and Institutes on September 23rd, 2020 CICan signed the SDG Accord and has since become part of the Endorsing Partner Network publicly stating our commitment to the SDGs as the way forward. The SDG Accord is the global university and college sector’s collective response to the Sustainable Development Goals. We congratulate our 7 members and 3 member student unions who have signed and look forward to many more.
We wish to thank and acknowledge our funding partners, the Sustainable Development Goals unit at Employment and Social Development Canada and the McConnell Foundation. We also offer our sincere appreciation to our collaborative partners: the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (Canada); the Canadian Commission for UNESCO; and the UNESCO chairs in sustainability, for their generous and unfailing contributions.
Most of all, we salute the passion and energy that faculty, staff, and students past and present, from colleges and institutes across the country, have brought to this project. Their commitment to People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships makes us confident that we can indeed, “build back better”.
Denise Amyot, President and CEO, CICan