The work of the SDG/2063 Impact Hub at Stellenbosch University (SU) has been named the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) Initiative of the Year (Africa) at the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (ACEEU) Triple E Awards held in Barcelona recently.
The Triple E Awards are a global recognition of entrepreneurship and engagement in higher education.
SU competed against North-West University, Euromed University of Fes in Morocco, and the German University in Cairo, as well as the American University in Cairo for the top spot on the African continent.
The University was also recognised in the People's Choice Awards (overall) for its SDG initiatives. Furthermore, SU was one of five finalists in the Entrepreneurial University of the Year category with Innovus taking second place with its entry on “Making Stellenbosch University Innovation Matter!"
Programme Manager of the SDG/2063 Impact Hub, Corina du Toit said: “This is a testament to the good progress we have made at SU in embedding sustainability at our institution and raising awareness of our contributions to the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs and the African Union's Agenda 2063 for a peaceful and prosperous Africa. It also underscores the timeliness for creating awareness of the contributions by SU to the Sustainable Development Agendas on the continent and globally. There is a wealth of initiatives to report on."
The award recognises the strides SU is making in realising its vision to be a leading research-intensive university though teaching, learning, research and impact. SU's entry, titled “Sustainable Development Progress for the Africa we want", highlighted the key objectives of the Hub, which is situated within the Centre for Collaboration in Africa. These include raising awareness on existing SDG/2063 related activities, advocating for the visible uptake of sustainability in research, teaching and operations, creating partnerships through international collaborations, and the collection of data, measurement of impact and consolidation of resources related to sustainability goals.
The SDG/2063 Impact Hub was established in late 2021 to help the University become more systemically sustainable and highlight SU's contributions to the two Agendas. It has mapped and documented SU's contributions to sustainable development on a regional and global scale.
“The importance of the specific focus of the Stellenbosch University SDG/2063 Impact Hub to also highlight our activities in terms of the African Union Agenda 2063 goals should not be underestimated," added Dr Nico Elema, Director of the Centre for Collaboration in Africa. “While it is important for all universities to ensure sustainability aligned with the UN SDGs, we as African universities need to take the extra step and articulate our activities within our African context, which is where the AU Agenda 2063 goals provide us with a guiding framework."
One of the Hub's highlights in the past two years was the founding of the African Regional Forum on Climate Change, ahead of Cop27 in 2022, with 23 other higher education institutions.
SU noted in its submission for the Triple E Awards that for real change to happen, there needs to be investment across the University at all levels. The Hub is therefore driving a working group that will incorporate all aspects of sustainable development in all aspects of research, teaching, outreach and stewardship.