IN 2015, Malaysia adopted the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which establishes aims towards a better future for nations.
The agenda contains 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets covering complex global issues, including economic prosperity, good governance, environmental sustainability, climate change adaptation and mitigation and social inclusion.
Malaysia’s SDGs Voluntary National Review 2017 highlighted the nation’s commitment to obtaining the agenda’s “ambitious” targets.
However, in the quest to accelerate action on the SDGs within the next 11 years, significant involvement and contribution from all sectors, including that of higher learning institutions, are necessary.
There are 20 public universities and a number of private universities and colleges in Malaysia that can support the implementation of SDGs through the creation and dissemination of knowledge by way of teaching and learning, research, innovation, governance and leadership.
Tackling SDG challenges requires the development of new knowledge, which can be provided by universities using the said services.
Through knowledge discovery and creation, for example, universities can assist in the understanding of barriers and opportunities, and connections between SDGs.
Whereas through teaching and learning, universities can help boost students with education and skill, and develop their leadership and capacity building to meet global challenges.
Research, which is another important component of knowledge, can help universities to be at the forefront in discovering solution for economic, environmental and social sustainability, and pioneering innovation that support SDGs.
Internally, universities should internalise SDG principles and implement them in the governance structure.
Externally, advocating them means that universities should strengthen engagement with stakeholders.
Such engagement could be in various forms, from initiating discourse to being involved in the design of national policies and guidelines.
Universities have an influence not only on society, but also on industries and private sectors.
Due to their participation in governance at national and regional levels, they are in the top position to promote the agenda.
Many universities contribute to sustainable development in related areas.
However, for the goals to be achieved, universities need to become champions in the implementation of SDGs and to lead the local, national, and international response to them.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR MAIZATUN MUSTAFA
Legal Practice Department, Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws, International Islamic University Malaysia
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR HAZIANTI ABDUL HALIM
Department of Accounting and Finance, Faculty of Management Economics, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris