UdeM makes the top 25 in sustainable development

The United Nations cites the Innovation Lab’s CLAD project as being world-class - and unique in Canada - when compared to how other universities and colleges put the UN’s goals into practice.

The Université de Montréal Innovation Lab ’s ’Building a Sustainable Future’ project has made the United Nations Academic Impact’s of the world’s top 25 higher-education institutions that implement the UN’s sustainable-development goals.

The list was compiled after a review of submissions to the UN agency from universities and colleges around the world. The UdeM project, known in French as CLAD (Construire l’avenir durablement), was the only Canadian one selected.

The UN Academic Impact best-practices list showcases a sample of what higher-education institutions worldwide are doing to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 - and inspire others to follow suit.

The CLAD project’s purpose is to support members of the UdeM community in establishing research and teaching activities related to the SDGs.

By facilitating multidisciplinary encounters, UdeM’s project aims to promote the sharing of knowledge and experience and to create linkages between research, teaching and community engagement - all this, in order to respond to current and future social and environmental challenges, using a systemic approach.

In collaboration with a range of local and global stakeholders, CLAD also works to support the deployment of far-reaching new initiatives and raise the profile of all’UdeM’s SDG-related research and teaching activities.

"The big sustainable-development challenges cannot be solved working in isolation," said CLAD’s coordinator Luc Stafford, the university’s assistant vice-rector of research, discovery, creation and innovation. "We need to build bridges between disciplines and sectors to stimulate cross-sectoral dialogue. That is the ecosystem we’re in the process of creating."

Spurring new projects

CLAD’s strategy revolves around systematically incorporating the principles of sustainability into activities at all levels, in both teaching and research, in order to spur the emergence of innovative and transformative interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral projects.

In teaching, this has led to the development of a new French-language portal for all members of the university community to access resources on sustainability and related issues, and on approaches to addressing them across all disciplines.

In research, CLAD supports and facilitates the emergence of new collaborative projects with goals such as rethinking the health of our planet with a One Health approach, capitalizing on knowledge from different fields to address the stretching of the planet’s limits, proposing solutions for feeding the population in a healthy and sustainable way, and questioning our relationship to the land and vulnerability.

CLAD’s work also aims to establish an environmentally responsible research culture , not only in the selection of research topics but also in the way research is conducted. For example, equipment and facilities can be better managed to maximize their utilization and reduce their environmental footprint.

"By acting as a catalyst and facilitator of interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research and education through projects such as CLAD and the One Health initiative, the Innovation Lab aims to ensure that everyone who attends or works at Université de Montréal acquires cross-cutting sustainable development skills such as systems thinking and critical reflection," said Stafford.

"We hope that with this recognition by United Nations Academic Impact, our approach will have an influence on a global scale."