Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
SDG/2063 Impact Hub collaborates in search of sustainable solutions
Author: SU International
Published: 20/05/2024

​The SDG/2063 Impact Hub, located in Stellenbosch University (SU) International's Centre for Collaboration in Africa, champions collaboration among African researchers to unlock the continent's vast potential for a sustainable future.

AC21 Legacy Symposium

This was plain to see at the AC21 Legacy Symposium, which the Hub recently co-hosted in Stellenbosch to mark the official conclusion of the work of the AC21 university network. The dynamic event brought together researchers, policymakers and students from across Africa and Europe.

The symposium delved into critical issues of particular relevance to Africa, with a focus on health and wellbeing, affordable and clean energy, as well as industry, innovation and infrastructure (sustainable development goals (SDGs) 3, 7 and 9 respectively). Discussions explored topics such as climate change's impact on primary healthcare systems, and natural dyes as a sustainable alternative for the textile industry. All sessions highlighted the urgent need for African-led research and innovation to address the continent's specific challenges and achieve a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future.


Yet the AC21 Legacy Symposium is just one example of the SDG/2063 Impact Hub's dedication to fostering collaboration for a more sustainable future. The Hub's range of sustainability literacy programmes also include the F17 SDG Challenge short course. Launched at SU in March 2022, F17 offers students a unique opportunity to take part in a global sustainability education programme across disciplines and cultures. Using the SDGs as a framework, participants work collaboratively with partners and mentors assigned by the different participating institutions to search for solutions to real-world challenges. 

The course is presented by the University of Exeter (United Kingdom), QS World University Rankings and a consortium of universities. Other partner institutions apart from SU include the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of São Paulo (Brazil), Auckland University (New Zealand), the American University in Cairo (Egypt), LUISS University in Rome (Italy), Arizona State University (United States) and the American University in Sharjah (United Arab Emirates). 

Currently in its fifth student intake, F17 continues to tackle practical issues in an innovative manner through sustainability principles, as illustrated by the projects below.

Sustainable dyes: Brewing up a better future for fashion

The fashion industry has a dirty secret: Synthetic dyes used in clothing production pollute water sources and pose health risks. A project carried out by the 2023 class of the F17 SDG Challenge brewed up a solution – using leftover tea leaves as a natural and sustainable dye alternative.

In an innovative project in collaboration with T-Hues, a Sri Lankan-based sustainable fashion brand, two SU students in collaboration with peers from Exeter, Sharjah, Cairo and Hong Kong found that black tea waste, which is traditionally discarded, could be reimagined as a valuable dye that is eco-friendly, safe, healthy and aesthetically pleasing. The aim is to replace up to 20% of synthetic dyes with natural dyes derived from black tea waste.

This certainly makes sustainable fashion everyone's cup of tea!

Practical environmental education toolkits in Cameroon 

In another F17 group, students worked with the non-profit The Greens to solve challenges associated with education, sustainable cities and communities as well as climate action in Cameroon. The group designed an 81-page service-learning environmental education toolkit. Comprising 12 lessons, the toolkit is designed to be creative, cooperative and hands-on, providing learners with practical knowledge to tackle environmental issues.

“As an Earth Sciences student, I never imagined myself putting together learning materials for students in Cameroon," one participant said during the group presentation. “It was extremely rewarding and fulfilling being a part of a programme that allows us to make a visible impact towards sustainability, and it was nice to be of service to a country on our continent."

As these and the many other F17 projects show, sustainability is not confined to a single field of study. From fashion and education to technology and taxation, every discipline has the potential to contribute to a more sustainable future.

We are excited to welcome another passionate cohort of students for the 2024 edition of the F17 programme, scheduled for September to December. Apply now and leverage your unique skills and knowledge for positive change.