The first online hui of the 2020-2021 Aotearoa New Zealand Sustainable Development Series, held on 19 November, included plenty of robust discussions and attracted 181 registered virtual participants.
Aimed at taking people on a journey from an individual understanding of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to collective action, the series is co-hosted by Lincoln University and the University of Canterbury.
The first hui, themed See the Change, focused specifically on youth and was designed to help participants gain a better understanding of the SDGs.
Speakers included 13-year-old Lucy Gray (climate activist and organiser of Christchurch’s School Strike for Climate), Ngāi Tahu student Tāmati Cunningham (Cashmere High School student leader and manawhenua representative for Environment Canterbury’s Youth Rōpu), Dr Pedram Pirnia (Special Advisor for Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations Association of New Zealand), and Raewyn Jones (WEL Energy Trust Chief Executive and Waikato Wellbeing Project Co-Chair).
The event was organised with Ngāi Tuahuririri and Ngāi Tahu, as well as Pasifika communities, and involved support from the Ara Institute of Technology and the Christchurch City Council. Supporting partners also included ChristchurchNZ, SEEDS Podcast, Tourism NZ and the New Zealand National Commission for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 SDGs, which are an urgent call for action by all countries.
They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand in hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
New Zealand’s eight universities have unanimously resolved to work together and with other sectors – specifically central and local government, civil society, the private sector and youth – to show leadership in the implementation of the SDGs at a national level.
This includes a commitment to hosting a series of national summits that aim to promote, build and accelerate multi-sector action to implement the SDGs in New Zealand.
The first summit was hosted by Victoria University of Wellington in April 2018, and the second was co-hosted by the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology in September 2019.
This year, a series of online hui have been introduced to keep the momentum going during the Covid-impacted months, and to add an online presence to the inter-universities collaboration.
The second hui, Be the Change, is scheduled for 25 March 2021, and the third hui, Working Together for Change, will be held on 24 June.
The third and final summit will be a face-to-face event on 2-3 September 2021, also co-hosted by Lincoln and UC.
The theme of the third summit will be Collaboration for Systemic Change, with day two featuring field trips to experience SDG developments in and around Christchurch.