Queen’s University has once again claimed a top ten spot among universities vying to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs were created by UN member nations in 2015 in an effort to guide global action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure shared peace and prosperity for all people by 2030.
Times Higher Education (THE) began tracking universities for their own Impact Rankings in 2019 and in 2023 tallied 1,591 universities from 112 different countries.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane said being named third place globally, and for the first time top spot in Canada, is gratifying.
Deane said Queen’s ability to remain in the top ten for three consecutive years is a testament to their commitment to the SDGs.
“That feels to me like a very, very solid performance from the university in a global context,” Deane said.
“And it’s a sign that we’re not only just holding our own and continuing to do what did so well for us three years but we’re in fact kind of deepening our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The rankings look at universities impacts on and commitments to the 17 SDGs which vary from promoting sustainable communities, to gender equality, to climate action.
Queen’s most notably finished 2nd in the world for SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, 3rd in Canada and 7th worldwide for Sustainable Communities and Cities, and first globally for SDG 2: Zero Hunger.
While the university has implemented several initiatives to help address food insecurity, some grad students at Queen’s whose union recently made it known that they have exhausted their emergency food fund may question how the university could be ranked so high while they struggle to manage their grocery bills.
Principal Deane says that Queen’s, along with other universities, has been lobbying the government for increases in funding for grad students.
He says recognition for the efforts they’ve already made to tackle food insecurity doesn’t mean there’s no work left to be done.
“There’s lots of work to be done on the situation of graduate students and in particular challenges that they faced with food instability and insecurity,” Deane said.
“You can do well in these rankings but that doesn’t mean your job is finished and that doesn’t mean you’ve achieved what you should.”
Deane added that post secondary institutions have demonstrated their commitment to these goals, and now their role is to advocate to their communities why they are so important and accessible.
“Universities have proven to be increasingly very, very committed to and able to advance each of the goals in important ways,” Deane said.
“In a sense it’s all about finding more and more allies to advance these goals.”
This year, Western Sydney University in Australia earned the top ranking.