Tsinghua University News

Tsinghua University and the University of Geneva Start Comprehensive Cooperation on UN Sustainable Development Goals

Tsinghua University and the University of Geneva Start Comprehensive Cooperation on UN Sustainable Development Goals

 ——The Two Universities Sign an MOU in the Presence of Two State Leaders


On January 16th, President Xi Jinping of China and the President of the Swiss Confederation, Doris Leuthard, jointly witnessed the signing of the memorandum between Tsinghua University and the University of Geneva on comprehensive cooperation on SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). The signing of this agreement marks the start of all-round cooperation between the two universities on joint training of students, advanced joint research, and the joint construction of a SDGs research center. With the signing, a solid step was taken for the two countries to cooperate on global problems in sustainable development.

 Photo of President Qiu Yong of Tsinghua University and the President of the University of Geneva.

President Qiu Yong, following the signing ceremony, noted that the importance two national leaders attach to this agreement on education for the SDGs was very encouraging. It is a strong, positive signal not just for the two universities, but for organizations all over the planet that are promoting new forms of challenge-based education to tackle pressing sustainable development issues. It is very important because the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, like ending poverty, eliminating hunger and tackling climate change, are truly global challenges.

President Yves Flückiger of the University of Geneva said that what the students achieved together last summer, in close collaboration with SDG experts from the UN and other international organizations, was in the spirit of the Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative. The joint initiative promotes education for the SDGs through challenge-based learning for the planet. It will result not only in a deeper understanding of the urgent challenges facing our planet for the students, but also in practical spin-off solutions that they will develop and implement to meet those challenges.

To accelerate this cooperation, on January 17th, the two universities together with several international organizations and academic institutions held a roundtable in Davos on the theme of “Education for the SDGs: challenge-based learning for the planet”. The objective of the roundtable is to explore how universities, international organizations, funding agencies and foundations can partner in new ways to better coordinate practical SDG education programs that target the development of innovative solutions for sustainable development, in order to achieve maximum global impact. Participants include delegates from international organizations such as Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Nikhil Seth, Executive Director of United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Agenda 2030. Three specific topics were explored, , i.e., United Labs, Open Seventeen, and SDG Accelator. 

The roundtable jointly held by Tsinghua University and the University of Geneva in Davos.

In discussion, Tsinghua University and the University of Geneva decided to establish an Advisory Board on the cooperation project on SDGs and invite Nikhil Seth, Executive Director of UNITAR, to act as chairman of the Advisory Board.

Also attending the roundtable were delegates from academic and social institutions such as Andres Franco, Deputy Director Partnerships of  UNICEF, Martin Vetterli, President of the école Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne, Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief of the science journal Nature, Francois Taddei, President of Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires, France, and Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation, as well as Yang Bin, Vice President and Provost of Tsinghua University.

Group photo after the signing of the dual master’s degree program.

During the roundtable, President Qiu Yong of Tsinghua University and President Yves Flückiger of the University of Geneva signed an agreement on the dual Master Degree of Public Policy for Sustainable Development Goals(MPP-SDG). The University of Geneva, a public university in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland, is internationally renowned. Taking advantage of the convenience of many international organizations in Geneva, the University of Geneva has developed a partnership with many international organizations and NGOs including the United Nations. Tsinghua University and the University of Geneva, having held in-depth communication for over one year as to how to encourage China and Switzerland to jointly tackle global sustainable development issues and train global leaders, have decided to engage in all-round cooperation on the UNSDGs, including  the dual Master Degree of Public Policy for Sustainable Development Goals(MPP-SDG), summer programs and short-term training, as well as advanced joint research.

(Edited by Huashan Li)