The United Nations Office in Geneva © Mat Reding

With the United Nation’s marking its 75th anniversary this weekend, a team of academics at Edge Hill University have warned that greater local action is needed in order to deliver a sustainable future for the planet.  

Since its inception on the 24th October 1945, the UN and its 193 member states have committed to maintaining international peace and security, promoting social progress, better living standards, human rights and tackling climate change. 

In 2015 the UN launched its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to address the mutual challenges facing the global community, with the aim to provide humanity with a better roadmap for the future. 

The 17 SDGs were adopted by all UN member states, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which set out an ambitious 15-year plan to achieve the goals. 

With the 10-year countdown on to meet the 2030 Agenda, a group of sustainability experts at Edge Hill believe that urgent action is needed at a local level if we are to turn the UN’s global vision into a reality. 

Daniel Bocharnikov, Edge Hill University’s Sustainability Manager

Daniel Bocharnikov has recently joined Edge Hill as Sustainability Manager and believes that the academic and education community will have a major role to play in the implementation of the SDGs. 

Daniel said: “The UN is an international, political and peace-orientated organisation and many of the education models that Edge Hill plans to implement in the future are based around its goals. If we are to truly mobilise the 2030 Agenda, it’s crucial that Universities embed the goals in the foundation of their institutional structures. This means encouraging staff and students to get involved and become the change makers who lead the way for future generations. The next few years will impact the fate of climate significantly, but what side of history will you be on?” 

Professor Christopher Dent

Professor Christopher Dent is an international political economist at Edge Hill’s Business School and leader of SustainNET, a new collaborative network under the Institute for Social Responsibility for individuals passionate about sustainability. 

Prof Dent added: “From a business and economic development perspective, the UN has been central in driving the global conversation around sustainability since the 1970s, when the first UN’s conference on the human environment was held in Stockholm in 1972. Thereafter, the UN started to develop leadership on climate action and most recently we saw the launch on the SDGs in 2015. The UN has provided the frameworks and actions that allow us to have these conversations on sustainability and it’s down to leaders at a local level to embed these practices in our communities.” 

Edge Hill launched SustainNET in February 2020 to promote and advance the University’s agenda on sustainability through research, knowledge exchange events, fostering local stakeholder partnerships, student engagement with plans to develop inter-disciplinary collaboration and curriculum programmes.  

Professor John Sandars from Edge Hill’s Medical School is SustainNet’s lead on Education for Sustainability. Prof Sandars said: “We must take a holistic approach to the SDGs and not treat them as individual entities. The educational challenge with this is increasing awareness of the aims, especially in a time of great instability for the world.  

“We can no longer simply go on talking about these objectives and not acting, that will not change the planet. Instead, we need to work with local communities to empower them with the skills and knowledge to be the change agents that the world needs.” 

For more information on our degree subjects, please visit the subject page. If you are interested in joining SustainNET, please get in contact with Prof Christopher Dent directly at [email protected].