OSU ranked top 10 nationally for contributions to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Story provided by OSU News

Oklahoma State University has achieved global recognition as a top 100 institution — top 10 in the U.S. — for its contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

OSU ranked No. 85 out of 1,115 institutions around the world and No. 8 in the U.S., according to the Times Higher Education’s 2021 impact rankings — the first global rankings to assess universities’ progress against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The rankings are based on research, outreach and stewardship and are the only ranking to highlight higher education’s sustainability impact across the globe.

“We are honored to be among the world’s leading universities in sustainable development,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “As a premier land-grant university, OSU has a long, proud history of working to stop hunger, improve water quality and supply, and advance sustainability on campus and around the world.”

This year, OSU submitted evidence of its activities for six goals: SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), SDG 6 (Clean Water ), SDG 7 (Clean Energy), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). A total of 164 pieces of evidence were submitted. The following are highlights from OSU’s performance rankings:

SDG 2 Zero Hunger

OSU ranked 10th in the world and second in the U.S. on SDG 2, which measures how universities contribute to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The assessment not only highlighted OSU’s strong research on tackling agriculture and hunger issues, but also demonstrated OSU’s strong outreach commitment to address food security locally and nationally, as well as operational practices with such entities as OSU Dining Services to reduce food waste.

SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation

OSU ranked 18th globally and third in the U.S. for its efforts towards SDG 6, which assesses universities’ contribution to water and sanitation for all. OSU is an EPA Energy Star Partner recognized for using Energy Star resources to reduce energy and water waste. OSU’s Water Resources Center is one of 54 centers nationally that focuses on achieving high-level water quality and sustainable use of regional water supplies. One example of OSU’s efforts is the OSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders, which has been volunteering to build a point-of-use water treatment system to provide clean drinking water in Guatemala since 2015.

SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

OSU ranks 29th globally and sixth in the U.S. on SDG 11, which focuses on how universities strive to preserve and promote art, heritage, culture and environment in their communities. This acknowledges OSU’s ongoing efforts toward a more sustainable transportation strategy and minimizing negative environmental footprints through new buildings and housing. OSU’s partnership with the City of Stillwater on local planning and development is part of this assessment. OSU also plays a key role in the preservation of culture in Oklahoma and enriching the cultural life of communities through both academic programs and campus events.

SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals

OSU ranks 86th globally and fifth in the U.S. This measures how universities support the SDGs through engagement with local, national government and international organizations to develop policy and strategies. It also gauges universities’ collaboration with other countries to identify solutions and promote best practices. OSU was recognized for implementing global partnerships for sustainable development. As a public research institution, OSU works closely with private and public sectors, NGO partners and global partners, to study, teach and develop technologies, encourage best practices, and to develop strategies to address global challenges.

Associate Provost and School of Global Studies and Partnerships Dean Randy Kluver said OSU recently adopted the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for global partnerships and global engagement.

“The SDG’s are completely in line with what a university like OSU is about, improving the quality of life for communities both locally and around the world,” Kluver said. “We are thrilled that our efforts have been recognized by this ranking.”

From its experiences beginning in the 1950s with the Point IV Program, OSU has supported sustainability activities through teaching, research and extension on campus and in the community. In the 1950s, OSU faculty and staff contributed to the development of agricultural production and higher education in Ethiopia through the founding of Haramaya University and Jimma University. In addition, OSU faculty and staff have contributed immensely to initiatives in Pakistan, Thailand, Brazil and others through the decades. As a land-grant university, OSU’s areas of teaching and research overlap well with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded OSU the Green Power Leadership Award in 2014. Since July 2007, OSU has saved more than $32 million through a behavior-based energy conservation program across all five of its campuses. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education presented OSU the STARS Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements.

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