Implementing the 2030 Agenda at Higher Education Institutions: Challenges and Responses


Looking at the 2030 Agenda from a higher education perspective, its main strength is that it has given us the opportunity to once again shed light on the essentiality of embedding certain values and practices in the main missions of our institutions. The 2030 Agenda has given us the chance to rethink the role of higher education institutions, as reflected in GUNi’s mission statement. It also goes a step further by making everyone responsible and calling for collective action. Universities have multiple roles to play in this (in education, research and as institutions in a specific economic and social ecosystem).

This publication focuses on the obstacles that HEIs encounter when implementing the SDGs and offers some clues as to what some higher education institutions do to overcome them. It includes regional and institutional approaches to sustainable development and it offers a picture of how some higher education institutions can, and do, embed sustainable development in their core missions. Through this project, GUNi hopes to demonstrate its commitment and reinforce the role of HEIs, partnerships, knowledge and research in the achievement of the goals and a better future for all.

On this report you will find some approaches and examples as to what kind of obstacles higher education institutions find and how they are trying to overcome them in their specific contexts. In any case, at GUNi we firmly believe that (1) awareness raising, (2) more and stronger partnerships, (3) lobbying for an improved policy environment and (4) support for transdisciplinary work at HEIs, and also between HEIs and other institutions and organizations, will be of key importance in the quest towards implementing the goals set for 2030.

Ghada Ahmadein, Axel Didriksson, Carme Gual, Thomas Jørgensen, Akpezi Ogbuigwe, Arnau Queralt, Charles W. Richardson, Orlando Sáenz, Rajesh Tandon, Sosten Chiotha, Levis Eneya, Lawrence Mpekansambo, Pooja Pandey and Daniella Tilbury
Publication year: 


  • UNESCO. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • The Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP)

Sponsored by

  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry of Business and Employment. Department of Research and Universities
  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry for Foreign Action and Open Government