IAU HESD Cluster

IAU HESD Cluster

The IAU Cluster on HESD promotes the role that HEIs globally have to fulfil in order to achieve the SDGs and Agenda 2030. Universities are to address the SDGs, which themselves impact on and transform universities. The Cluster encourages a holistic approach to the SDGs, focusing specifically on the whole institution approach.

For more than two decades, IAU has worked on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD). In September 2015, the Resolution Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and with it the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations. This set the course for the next 15 years of work on Sustainable Development for many governments and organizations. Although IAU had been active in Sustainable Development (SD) before, the adoption of the Agenda 2030 convinced the Association to make this one of its Key Priorities.

Unlike other projects in this area, the IAU Cluster on HESD brings HEIs from all continents together, and encourages them to develop joint initiatives and synergies. This project is more than just about north-south, south-south, or north-north connections; it is also about bringing in universities wishing to get involved further to work together on an equal footing.

The Cluster works on all dimensions of the SDGs, combining economic, social, cultural, and environmental sustainability. Especially the cultural dimension of SD will be at the core of this Cluster, since this is an area not touched-upon a lot by others. Yet, due to the diverse nature of the IAU, the association believes that this is the key to successful partnerships and a holistic understanding of the Global Goals.

Peer-to-peer learning sparks new ideas and creativity among the Members of the Cluster and will encourage other universities to step up their game towards achieving a more sustainable future. The aim is that the Cluster will help generate new joint and collaborative projects and other initiative.

The Cluster is composed of 16 lead Institutions, each championing and working on one specific SDG while at the same time linking it to other relevant SDGs. Work on goal 17, which will consist of multiple organizations working together,is led by IAU. Gradually, additional institutions will be invited on board. The Cluster will be supported, monitored and steered by the IAU Working Group on HESD. Initiatives developed by the Cluster will be made available to all IAU Members.

Read more about the Cluster in the special edtion of IAU Horizon!

Cluster Leaders

SDG 1: No Poverty

University of Ghana, Ghana

The University of Ghana leads SDG1: No Poverty. 

The University launched recently the projects: “Economic Inclusion and Poverty Eradication” and “Ghana Economic Well-Being Project”.


Focal Point: Prof. George Oduro Nkansah, Director of Institute of Applied Science and Technology


  • McMaster University, Canada
  • Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan
  • UNICAMP, Brasil


SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Antonio Nariño University, Colombia

Antonio Nariño University leads SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Antonio Nariño University hosts the Faculty of Environmental Engineering. The faculty promotes the conservation of the environment and the development of sustainable infrastructures. 


Focal Points: Sandra Guarin, Director of International Relations


SDG 3: Good-Health and Well-Being

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

The Open University of Catalonia leds SDG 3: Good-Health and Wellbeing.

The UOC is an innovative university that is rooted in Catalonia and open to the world. It provides lifelong learning enabling the progress of both individuals and society as a whole, while also carrying out research into the knowledge society.

The UOC's strategic plan has included the 2030 Agenda as part of its roadmap since 2017. The aim is for the whole institution to work towards sustainable development and make a significant contribution to the SDGs.

Located in Barcelona, the University is home to the Faculty of Health Studies and the eHealth Center which, jointly with the Globalization and Cooperation department, lead the SDG 3 Thematic Cluster on HESD. The UOC’s goal in terms of health is to educate and empower professionals and citizens through the use of technologies, and to lead the way towards a new health paradigm. It focuses on people through research, education and guidance, with the aim to contribute to the progress and well-being of society. These will be guiding principles for the SDG 3 team.


Focal Point: Carme Carrion, professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, and head of Design and Assessment of eHealth Interventions, eHealth Center

                     Nadja Gmelch, Director Open Knowledge Projects


  • Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • University College Dublin, Ireland
  • Makerere University, Uganda
  • Universidad de Caldas, Colombia
  • Western Sydney University, Australia
  • Gadja Mada University, Indonesia

SDG 4: Quality Education

Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

Leuphana University of Lüneburg leads SDG 4: Quality Educuation

The university hosts the UNESCO Chair “Higher Education for Sustainable Development”

What is the role played by sustainable development in higher education? Is there a way to instill in students – in addition to the content of their respective professional studies – a holistic and responsible understanding of science, which includes sustainability aspects? Which competencies do they need, in order to assess the impact of their actions on future generations and other regions of the world, thereby making responsible decisions for the future? And how can relevant teaching and learning formats be integrated into the Curricula of higher education institutions? These are the questions of concern for the UNESCO Chair “Higher Education for Sustainable Development”.


Focal Point: Maik Adomßent, Administrative Professor of Behaviour, Communication and Sustainable Development


  • York University, Canada
  • Charles University, Czech Republic
  • Rhodes University, South Africa
  • International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia

SDG 5: Gender Equality

University of Bologna, Italy

The University of Bologna leads SDG 5: Gender Equality

The University promotes SDG5: Gender Equality throughout the whole institution. Alma Gender IRT is an integrated research team.


Focal Point: Chiara Elefante, Vice rector for human resources 


  • Vechta University, Germany
  • McMaster University, Canada
  • Assam Don Bosco, India
  • UOC, Spain
  • UNESP, Brazil

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

University of Tehran, Iran

The University of Tehran leads SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

The University is home to the Water Institute, a research unit that focuses specifically on the water resources.


Focal Point: Dr Peyman Badiei, Head of Instituion Water Institute


  •  University of Granada, Spain
  • University of Barcelona, Spain
  • University of Queensland, Australia
  • Universidad Antonio Nariño, Colombia
  • Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Assam Don Bosco University, India

Assam Don Bosco University leads SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy.

Assam Don Bosco University has committed itself to becoming an EcoFriendly campus. Especially in the field of affordable and clean energy, the university is moving forward.


Focal Points: Fr. Joseph Nellanatt, Pro Vice Chancellor

                      Professor Sunandan Baruah, Director, Center of Excellence in Nano technology

                      Dr Vikramjit Kakati, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

                      Mr. Bikramjit Goswami, Assistant Professor,  Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering

                      Ms. Juhi Baruahjuhi, Human Resources Director


  • Qatar University, Qatar
  • Strathmore University, Kenya

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

University of Gothenburg, Sweden

The University of Gothenburg Leads SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

The University hosts the “Work and Employment Research Centre” (WE), which purpose is “to promote and support research, education, innovation and utilization in the field of sustainable work and employment.”

Read here the report of the Univeristy of Gotheburg on their work in the Cluster. 


Focal Point: Eddi Omrcen, Sustainability Officer


  • Makerere University, Uganda
  • Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  • University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  • University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • University of Nairobi, Kenya
  • University of Concepción, Chile
  • Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
  • University of Economics Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Beirut Arab University, Lebanon

Beirut Arab University leads SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructures

Creative Sustainable Development is one of the key research themes at BAU. 


Focal Points: Ms. Salam Zahran, Human Rights Specialist

                      Prof. Ibtihal El- Bastawissi Professor- Faculty Dean (Faculty of Architecture –Design and Built Environment)

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

University of Tsukuba, Japan

The University of Tsukuba leads SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities.

The University offers a Bachelor’s Program in Global Issues, a comprehensive program focusing on literacy in global issues. Students learn what ‘global issues’ are and how they can be resolved from the perspectives of “Environment” and “the Human being”.


Focal Point: Prof. Muneo Kaigo, Institute for Comparative Research in Human and Social Sciences (ICR)


  • The University of Maribor, Slovenia
  • The University of Carthage,  Tunesia
  •  City University of Hong Kong 

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Siam University, Thailand

Siam University leads SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Siam University committed itself to ‘sustainable urban development.’ This idea has a high priority for Thailand. The plan is for the country to develop the status of a knowledge based society and urban living. This new urban agenda will ensure Thailand’s focus on creativity, innovation, and development path.

Please click here for a more detailed description of Siam University's initiatives towards the SDGs. 


Focal Point: Prof. Pornchai Mongkhonvanit, President, Siam University & Vice President IAU

                    Dr. Kanjana Mahatanatavee, Dean of the Faculty of Science


  • J.F. Oberlin University. Japan
  • Tokai University, Japan 
  • University of Surabaya (UBAYA), Indonesia
  • Durban University of Technology (DUT), South Africa
  • American International University - Bangladesh (AIUB)

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

University of Regina and Luther College

The University of Regina and Luther College lead SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

The Regional Centre for Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development in Saskatchewan is hosted by the Luther College at the University of Regina. It has multiple flagship projects. Among others The Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN); Community Collaboration for Potash Mine Engagement; and Reducing Pesticide Use: Plant Health Care Model.


Focal Point: Dr. Roger Petry, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Luther College & Co-coordinator, RCE Saskatchewan

                    Ms. Jocelyn Crivea,  Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Communities Manager, University of Regina


  • Moi University, Kenya
  • Vechta University, Germany
  • Univerdiad del Bosque, Colombia
  • Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Peru
  • Universitit Sains Malaysia, Malaysia
  • University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

SDG 13: Climate Action

University of the West Indies, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago

The University of the West Indies leads SDG 13: Climate Action. 

The University of the West Indies is located in the Caribbean and hence in one of the areas already affected by climate change. The University has multiple initiatives focusing on sustainable development: the Climate Studies Group Mona (CSGM), Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), and the cross-campus UWI Resilience Working Group (UWIRWG).


Focal Point: Dr. Stacy Richards-Kennedy, Director of Development 


  • Univeristy of Bergen, Norway
  • TERI School of Advances Studies, India
  • University of the South Pacific, Fiji
  • Univeristy of Waterloo, Canada
  • Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
  • University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Univeristy of Aruba, Aruba
  • University of Bristol, UK
  • University of Ghana, Ghana

SDG 14: Life Below Water

University of Bergen

The University of Bergen leads SDG 14: Life below Water.

The University of Bergen (UiB) is Norway’s largest marine university, with research and education of a high international standard and several world leading research environments. In 2018, a new research center to focus on sustainable ocean research was established, the Ocean Sustainability Centre.


Focal Point: Prof. Lise Øvreås, Professor 


  • The University of the South Pacific, Fiji
  • University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • The University of Tokyo, Japan
  • Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany
  • The University of the West Indies, Jamaica

SDG 15: Life on Land

University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica

The University of Costa Rica leads SDG 15: Life on Land.

Costa Rica contains nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity, making it the country with the highest density of biodiversity worldwide. The University of Costa Rica (UCR) hosts the Centre for Research on Sustainable Development (CIEDES) and conducts relevant research in other areas related to the topic.

Read here about the commitment of the UCR for the SDGs (in Spanish). 


Focal Point: Dr. Mahmmood Sasa, Senior Professor

                    Dr. Yamileth Angulo, Director of ICP

SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

University of Nairobi, Kenya

The University of Nairobi leads SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Instituions

The University is home to the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies. The overall aim of the institute is to cultivate better environmental stewardship and management of resources and ultimately a reduction in related conflicts.


Focal Point: Prof. Henry Mutembei, Director,  Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies 


  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • James Madison University, USA
  • University of Tokyo, Japan

SDG 17: Parnerships for the Goals

International Association of Universities

The International Association of Universities leads SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

IAU has promotes higher education teaching, research and community engagement to foster sustainable development since the early 90. Building partnerships and networking for sustainable development and to address the SDGs and Agenda 2030 is inscribed in its DNA.  We are pleased to partner with Universities and HEIs and with committed national and international Organisations to build the synergies that are required to help achieve the goals.


Focal Point: Dr. Hilligje van't Land, Secretary General

                    Stefanie Mallow, Programme Officer