The University of Newcastle, Australia has been named #1 in the world for partnering for a more sustainable future in the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings.

students walking together on campus
University of Newcastle named #1 in the world for partnering for a more sustainable future

THE Impact Rankings assess universities against the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which act as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The overall ranking is determined by each university’s performance against SDG 17 plus their three best scoring goals.

With an overall impact ranking of 12th in the world (up 33 places from 2020), the University of Newcastle has been recognised for its strategic commitment to a world that is equitable, sustainable and prosperous for all.

The University of Newcastle was ranked the number one in the world in SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals. SDG 17 is arguably the most competitive ranking as it is the only compulsory goal for assessment, recognising that a sustainable future can only be realised with shared vision, strong partnerships and cooperation. Under SDG17, THE looks for evidence that the University contributes to national government SDG policy development, and collaborates across sectors, with NGOs, and internationally to tackle SDGs.

The University’s overall impact ranking was also made up of SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy (#3 in the world); SDG 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing (#12 in the world); and SDG 15 – Life on Land (#17 in the world).

Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic Excellence, Professor Jennifer Milam, said the impact results are validation the University of Newcastle is living its values and succeeding in its commitment to both local and global communities.

“This is a really significant achievement for our University, for the communities we serve and the world at large,” Professor Milam said.

“We know that a better and fairer future for all requires ‘all hands on deck’, so partnerships are key. We want our research to benefit everyone, everywhere, and we know that together we can achieve more,” Professor Milam said.

“We know we are part of something bigger and our door is always open to the opportunity to affect real change,” she said.

The University’s partnerships for a better world include our partnership with the City of Newcastle, which led to the naming of Newcastle as a United Nations City in 2015 and the establishment of CIFAL Newcastle, a United Nations International Training Centre for Authorities and Leaders at the University of Newcastle, which is affiliated to the United Nations through its parent body UNITAR.

Other partnerships committed to the pursuit of UN SDGs include with Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), the Hunter SDG taskforce, the NSW Energy and Resources Knowledge Hub, the World Technologies University Network, the Pacific Node research program and CIFAL Newcastle – to name just a few.

A total of 1,240 global universities participated in the 2021 THE Impact Rankings. Australian universities performed very strongly demonstrating a sector wide commitment to a sustainable and equitable future.

“Equity and sustainability are two of our University’s core values,” Professor Milam said.

“They underpin all of our activities, including the courses we teach, the research we conduct, and the partners we choose to work with,” Professor Milam added.

“Our university aims to produce life-ready graduates and that includes helping students to develop a deep cultural awareness and a commitment to social, ethical and sustainable practices, so the way we conduct ourselves as a place of learning must model these behaviours.”

The UN established its 17 SDGs in 2015 to define ‘the world we want’ and to ensure that, as the world continues to develop, no one is left behind. They aim to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. The UN SDGs underpin the University of Newcastle’s Looking Ahead Strategic Plan.

In aligning its activities with the UN SDGs, the University of Newcastle continues to serve its regions, taking research that matters to the world and preparing our students for life in an increasingly interconnected society.

“To be among the most impactful universities in the world striving for a better future for all and for the planet is evidence that our strategy is being translated into real actions,” Professor Milam said.

“This is acknowledgement of our combined efforts and a great motivator to keep pushing forward,” she said.

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