Reaching a Higher Level of Sustainability

Reaching a Higher Level of Sustainability

On any given day there are hundreds of sustainability events around the world but a new global gathering in Bangkok is set to make a substantial sustainable difference to the sector.  

Times Higher Education’s (THE) Global Sustainable Development Congress (GSDC), on 10-13 June in Bangkok, is different in so many ways…  

Firstly, as a data-led higher education organisation we’re passionate about, and have expertise in, higher education and data and so you won’t be surprised to find we put those things at heart of the event where our unrivalled convening power in the sector will bring some of the world’s greatest minds working on sustainability in higher education together.  

We know the incredible potential the sector has, as universities are centres of excellence, expertise and innovations, in sustainable development and the cutting-edge research they produce can provide the creative spark to find new solutions to the world’s greatest problems. Universities are drivers of change through their creation of new knowledge to the world’s sustainability challenges and through the development of the next generation of sustainability leaders, but they cannot do it alone. 

Indeed, a report we produced in August looked at higher education’s role in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the G20 and it found those governments are underutilising higher education institutions, which are in a unique position to help catalyse progress on reaching the goals. It found higher education institutions’ role extends far beyond contributing to just SDG 4 – quality education – and that the university sector has the power and influence to significantly impact all 17 of the SDGs.   

That is why we created the GSDC to not only advance sustainability in higher education. It’s so much more than that. The event uniquely unites business, government and civil society with the higher education sector as all four are the vital components that have to work together to reach the SDGs. 

There are six core sustainable tracks at the event: digital revolution; education, gender and inequality; energy decarbonisation and industry; health, well-being and demography; cities and communities; and food, land, water and oceans. All these tracks are dedicated to addressing the transformations critical to achieving the goals.  

And there are four major events, which could quite easily be their own stand-alone events, within the Congress. The Global Sustainability Leaders Summit, is an exclusive gathering of 200 global leaders to address the most pressing challenges in progressing the SDGs. DataLabs empowers sustainability in higher education through data, expert analysis and global best practice. The Business Schools Showcase will address business education’s role in shaping the next generation of sustainable leaders and the International Green Skills Summit addresses the impact of net zero on the workforce. 

In addition, the live reveal of THE’s groundbreaking Impact Rankings 2024, which presents unique data on universities’ impact across all 17 UN SDGs, takes place at the summit. 

Our initial collection of Impact Rankings data shows the highest ever participation in the ranking with 2,152 higher education institutions from 125 countries/regions submitting data. 

And it is pertinent, with the summit taking place in Thailand, that Asia is the biggest player in these rankings with 1,053 universities from the region submitting data. India is the most-represented nation with 105 participating institutions, Turkey is second with 100, Pakistan is third with 96 and Japan is fourth with 88. Some nations have more than doubled their representation including Azerbaijan – from eight last year to 18 this year – and the country is hosting this year’s COP29.  

More than 350 speakers will be sharing their expert insights on sustainable development including Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, minister of natural resources, environment and climate change, Malaysia and member of parliament for Setiawangsa; Samantha Hung, director of gender equality, Asian Development Bank; Dawn Freshwater, vice-chancellor and professor, The University of Auckland and Salinla Seehaphan, corporate affairs director, Nestlé. 

We specially chose the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, which has a huge exhibition hall and the capacity for more than 3,000 attendees, to facilitate the urgent solutions to the sustainability emergency.  

The event will highlight initiatives to drive societal change through education, research and innovation and attendees will hear about the best sustainable integration strategies.   

Join us along with 3,000 sustainability champions at the Global Sustainable Development Congress in Bangkok, this June. A 25% discount is available to readers of this piece by entering the code: ASSIST25 for THE’s GSDC. Book your ticket now –  

About Author

Phil Baty is a leading authority on international higher education policy and university performance and leads on government partnerships and global affairs at Times Higher Education, which connects the world’s higher education community, facilitates the flow of ideas and talent, and helps academics and students fulfil their potential. 

Published on April 1, 2024.

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Phil Baty, as the author, highlights the Global Sustainable Development Congress in Bangkok, where higher education, business, government, and civil society unite to drive
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