2021 SDG Accord Report

NEW - The SDG Accord Report 2021 is available here.

The recording of the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) Special Event, Driving collective action for the SDGs: The role of further education, Building a sustainable and resilient recovery where the findings of the 2021 SDG Accord Reporting were revealed are available here.

2020 SDG Accord Report

You can now read the 2020 SDG Accord report: Progress towards the Global Goals in the HE and FE Sector. The findings from the third SDG Accord annual progress report show awareness of the SDGs in universities and colleges across the world is steadily increasing. From the institutional signatories of the Accord, 83 institutions from across the world reported on their progress on the SDGs over the academic year 2019-2020. This is an increase of 63% on the number that submitted reporting last year, and is reflective of the growth in the sector on this agenda.

A resource to outline what SDG contributions might look like in an institution is available here.

2019 SDG Accord report

You can now read the 2019 SDG Accord report 'Progress towards the Global Goals in the University and College sector' here. This was delivered at the UN High Level Political Forum on Wednesday, 10th July 2019 at the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative event. This will be delivered annually to the HLPF and is an officially recognised mechanism of HESI.

A full communications kit is available here.

2018 SDG Accord report

The first SDG Accord report was delivered to the UN High Level Political Forum in July 2018. This was received well and one of the recommendations for the UN was immediately agreed on by them. That was for the SDG Accord to be an officially recognised tool of The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI*).

*HESI is a partnership between United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNESCO, United Nations Environment, UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, United Nations University (UNU), UN-HABITAT, UNCTAD and UNITAR.

Read the report: Global universities, colleges and students leading delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

There is also a communications toolkit to support the report.


The UN

  1. Provide funding for Higher and Further Education institutions to implement SDG engagement opportunities with students and training sessions for staff.

  2. Offer subsidised or free online international SDG courses and workshops for Higher and

  3. Further Education students and staff.

  4. Facilitate online conversation for students from across the world to discuss their SDG work, exchange knowledge and share resources.

  5. Endorse and communicate the important role Higher and Further Education makes in contributing to delivery across all the SDGs (not just SDG 4).

  6. Call on country members to mandate the embedding of Education for Sustainable Development and whole-institution university and college sustainability assessment and formally report on it.

  7. Enable the UN organisational members of the HESI to more regularly communicate, coordinate and host an annual event in partnership with the Global Alliance.

Governments across the world

  1. Recognise the importance of the SDGs, and make sure they are prioritised in governmental plans. This must involve cross departmental working and have a reporting mechanism.

  2. When conducting Voluntary National Reviews as part of your commitment to the UN SDGs, ensure engagement with Higher and Further Education institutions and representative bodies.

  3. Make a substantial investment fund available to promote energy efficiency and carbon reduction in universities and colleges.

  4. Require all universities and colleges to make explicit their plan of action to support the SDGs. It should also be compulsory for all levels of education to integrate the SDGs as part of learning and teaching, and inspections of education institutions should require evidence of this.


  1. Sign the SDG Accord and show that you are supportive of the SDGs.

  2. Mobilise student bodies to lobby your institutions to do more on the SDGs and push them to include them at a strategic level. Working with external student organisations will also help.

  3. Take up the opportunities your institutions offer you on the SDGs, such as free courses and volunteering opportunities.

  4. Demand inclusion of the SDGs in your curriculum. The SDGs relate to everything, and if you are not being taught about them, you are missing out on a core graduate attribute.

    Universities and Colleges

  5. Sign the SDG Accord at a senior leadership level and pledge your commitment to the SDGs.

  6. Sign the Global Climate Emergency Letter and start to take action against Climate Emergency in your institution.

  7. Map and report formally on your contribution to the SDGs. Create benchmarks and targets. This ensures you are being transparent and aspirational. It is unnecessary to compare yourself with other institutions, everyone has different impact capabilities.

  8. Increase your knowledge exchange on sustainability, both interdepartmental and with other institutions.

  9. If your institution undertakes research, change the research application to necessitate researchers outlining which of the SDGs the work contributes towards

  10. If your institution looks to update or begin new processes incorporate the SDGs, particularly strategies, policies and updates to the curriculum or course review process

  11. Look for innovative ways to increase staff and student capacity to address the SDGs.

  12. Explicitly incorporate the SDGs across the whole curriculum. It has relevance to every single course and module offered, and knowledge of sustainable development and it’s applicability to every day scenarios is a much coveted graduate attribute for employers.

  13. Offer more funded extracurricular opportunities for students to get involved with sustainability initiatives.

SDG Accord Endorsing Partners

  1. Encourage your members to sign the SDG Accord and facilitate their national and international knowledge exchange and dialogue.

  2. Look at how you can work on a more regional level with local Government on the SDGs and connect them with higher and further education institutions.

  3. Integrate the SDGs into the tools, standards and accreditations you control

  4. Create more opportunities for national and international SDG collaborations through online platforms, workshops and events.

  5. Highlight examples of good practice in your membership on the SDGs

Reporting information

Openly and annually accounting for progress and sharing our experience and learning from implementing the SDGs is a key requirement of the Accord. Those that do not comply with this requirement following the second year of reporting will be removed as an institutional signatory from the SDG Accord. Reporting can only be submitted once for each institution and the SDG Accord Institutional signatory must have final sign off.


SDG Accord report - July 2019

SDG Accord report - July 2018

*The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI), a partnership between United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNESCO, United Nations Environment, UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, United Nations University (UNU), UN-HABITAT, UNCTAD and UNITAR