Tongji University ranks 1st in delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the world

On 22 April, Times Higher Education released the 2nd World University Impact Rankings which demonstrates how universities around the world are committing to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs). Tongji University ranks 13th in the global list and 1st in the Asian list. Tongji ranks globally first in Sustainable Development Goal 7 (affordable and clean energy) and 2nd the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation).

In May 2002, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Tongji University jointly established UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development (IESD), which aims to form an inter-disciplinary platform and contribute significantly to environment and sustainable development from three main pillars – education, research and outreach. IESD is the first collaborative institute of UNEP and a university in the world.

Leaderships from Tongji University said, "For more than ten years, Tongji University has worked closely with the United Nations Environment Programme in the areas of green campus construction, talent cultivation in sustainable development, scientific research and international collaboration and others." Tongji University accumulates experience through innovative practice, leads global universities towards sustainability and makes our contribution to construction of ecological civilization and the realization of green development. This is a vivid example of how a Chinese university build itself to be a world-class university.

Cultivate talents in Sustainable Development for Asia-Pacific region and Mainstream Sustainable Development into Higher Education

In order to tackle the challenges of energy crisis, environment pollution and climate change, and promote green development, the top priority is to cultivate experts in the field of sustainable development.

International Master and Doctoral Degree Programme on Environment and Sustainable Development was launched in 2006 and the programme has enrolled 525 master students from 89 countries so far.IESD alumni are currently, active in international organizations, national government agencies, academic institutions, corporate departments and other industries.

In order to promote the idea and practice of global sustainable development of higher education, by 2019, IESD has set up a series of interdisciplinary programmes of sustainable development for undergraduate and graduate students, including “Sustainable Development and Our Future” themed lecture series, Minor Programmes in Sustainable Development for both undergraduate and postgraduate, as well as various interdisciplinary public courses.

Tongji University and UNEP also co-hosted the Asia-Pacific Leadership Programme on Environment for Sustainable Development (APLP) which is an annual flagship programme. APLP aims to build capacity for emerging leaders from the Asia Pacific region on holistic sustainability thinking and evidence-based approaches for effective action. Over 500 emerging leaders from 45 countries and organizations have benefited from this annual leadership program at IESD, of which more than 30 countries are from the Asia-Pacific.

Education for Sustainable Development aims to embed the concept of sustainable development to all majors and students with different background, in order to emphasis social responsibility and inspire green solutions for global energy and environment challenges. The interdisciplinary public selective course 'Sustainable Development and Our Future' has attracted over 4000 students from more than 30 schools. Innovative and transdisciplinary Minor Programme in Sustainable Programme (MPSD) has enrolled some 2000 student to choose to study in 10 different directions including green economy, green mobility, marine science. To enhance the research in sustainable development, Tongji also established transdisciplinary PhD programme in sustainable development where PhD candidates have two mentors from different background.

To strengthen the research on sustainable development, Tongji university also enrolls and cultivates the interdisciplinary doctoral programme on sustainable development, and implements the interdisciplinary double tutor system to promote the research on sustainable development.

Carry Out Scientific Research and Strengthen International Collaboration

Tongji University, in the partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme, has undertaken a number of South-South cooperation slots in the area of sustainable development, such as launching wastewater treatment projects and introducing free water treatment technologies in Africa. In November 2013, Professor LI Fengting, Executive Vice Dean of UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development, who took the long-term responsibility of water treatment projects in Africa, was awarded the Special Contribution award for South-South Cooperation by the United Nations.


In 2019, Tongji University and UN-Habitat jointly launched reports titled “Net Zero Carbon Village Planning Guidelines” and “Making Cities Sustainable Through Rehabilitating Polluted Urban Rivers: Lessons from China and other countries”, to promote China’s experience in green urbanization and river restoration to the world.

At the end of 2019, Tongji University Sustainable Development and New Urbanization Think Tank published the report titled “2017-2018 Annual Green Book for Sustainability of 35 Big Cities in China”, and announced assessment result at the same time, which is the fifth issue of the series. The aim of the research is to provide government with ideas that can improve the mode of urban development and optimize the construction of ecological civilization.

In 2019, Tongji University and UN-HABITAT jointly published the publication of Net Zero Carbon Village Planning Guidelines for the Yangtze River Delta Region in China and Making cities Sustainalbe through rehabilitating polluted urban rivers.



Tongji University and UNEP jointly published flagship report Global Environment Outlook 6, For Youth, Asia and the Pacific. Professor Wang Ying,Vice Dean of IESD was the only leading author of the report.

Carry Out Scientific Research and Promote Sustainable Development in Higher Education

The Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability (GUPES) was established in Tongji University in 2012.GUPES aims to promote the integration of environment and sustainability concerns into teaching, research, community engagement. 833 universities and regional partners/focal points from five different continents and 105 countries are part of the growing GUPES network.Professor Wu Jiang, Executive Vice president and Dean of IESD serves as the chairman of GUPES.


Since 2009, Tongji holds International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability.So far, more than 2700 students from over 50 countries have participated in the conferences and discuss the urgent isses on sustainability and advocate for more efforts.


"As an important part of building a world-class university in China, our goal is to build Tongji University into a communicator, practitioner and leader of the concept of sustainable development in the field of higher education, as well as a centre for sustainable development practices in the Asia-pacific region and the world," Wu Jiang said.

(The article is translated from Wen Hui Daily.)

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