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The UN Sustainable Development Goals play an important role at Roskilde University

Roskilde University’s approach towards working on the UN Sustainable Development Goals is based on interdisciplinarity and cross-sectoral cooperation.
UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that commit the UN member states to remain on the right track in the runup to 2030.

The SDGs play an important role at Roskilde University – and their influence is felt across the board.

“In our latest strategy, we have announced that Roskilde University will work for sustainable solutions to the great challenges of the future, both on a national and global level. This ambition is a challenging one, but fortunately it is not a task that we have to solve on our own. It can only be solved together with other societal actors such as municipalities, companies, NGO’s and citizens,” says Roskilde University pro-rector, Peter Kjær.

Roskilde University has a strategic objective to pursue research and education that contributes to the achievement of the SDGs. Among other things, the University has created the CIRCLES research centre for this very purpose. CIRCLES is an interdisciplinary research centre that focuses on circular economics and sustainable development.

CIRCLES includes a number of research projects that are directly or indirectly related to the SDGs. One of the projects is 'Rethinking Sustainability: Progressive Models and the UN Sustainable Development Goals' that focuses on how the SDGs can be used as a management tool to create new and progressive business models and on how private companies and collaborations between companies, the public sector and NGOs can potentially be used to develop these dynamic business models.

Another example is the project called 'Humanitarian Innovation for Sustainable Development', where the research group behind the project aims at exploring how NGOs' unique knowledge of local needs in emerging markets may serve as basis for partnerships with businesses to create sustainable solutions.

A third example is the Horizon 2020 project, CityLoops, where Roskilde University, together with 27 international partners, is to develop knowledge and tools that promote circular economies in six European cities: Seville, Porto, Apeldoorn, Mikkeli, Bodø and Roskilde/Høje Taastrup. In the Danish part of the project, Roskilde University will be collaborating with, among others, Roskilde Municipality and Høje Taastrup Municipality on the development and demonstration of planning tools that will promote the recycling of construction materials.

CIRCLES is a gathering point for researchers across Roskilde University and across fields of research.


Partnerships between municipalities and universities

Danish municipalities have embraced the task of implementing the SDGs.

This requires collaboration, and therefore Roskilde University is in the process of entering into strategic partnerships with municipalities in Region Zealand. The new partnership agreements will be based on the SDGs and are intended to create the framework for the collaboration between municipalities and universities.

Roskilde University also participates in ‘The Partnership for Circular Municipalities’, which is facilitated by the Danish “Gate 21 network, the CONCITO think tank, and Roskilde University. Here, Roskilde University works with municipalities, companies and knowledge institutions in the Greater Copenhagen area to develop a number of innovative development projects dealing with green public sector purchasing processes and the recycling of construction materials, commercial waste and textiles.

In the coming years, municipalities and universities will designate further areas where concrete initiatives will be undertaken.


Conference in UN City

The SDGs were also the focal point when Roskilde University organized the conference 'Transforming for Sustainability' in UN City in Copenhagen in late 2018.

The conference was attended by researchers and representatives from the private sector and organisations, and together they discussed the possible solutions to some of the challenges that the SDGs focus on.

Among other things, this was discussed in a panel debate where researchers from Roskilde University presented three focus areas that they are working on. They also presented their research-oriented perspectives on a green transition in agriculture, the global and national management of plastic pollution and challenges associated with the mobility and urban development of the future. After each of the researchers had finished their presentations, four representatives from various sectors then discussed the theme. The four panel participants represented the umbrella organisation Global Focus, the consultancy firm Nordic Sustainability, the organisation Green Building Council Denmark and the Arla Foods Group.


Study programmes

The SDG’s are also, increasingly, part of Roskilde University’s study programmes. Issues related to sustainability is a regular component of study programmes such as TekSam – Environmental Planning, Environmental Risk, Geography and Business Administration. Roskilde University has also developed a dedicated global Summer Course in sustainability as part of our global Critical Edge Alliance that comprises eight universities around the world.


The People's Democratic Festival

Roskilde University also participates at Folkemødet - The People's Democratic Festival on Bornholm in June.

In 2019, Roskilde University's debates at the Folkemødet are related to the SDGs.
The Folkemødet is inspired by the Swedish event Almedals Veckan in Visby and is a meeting between politicians, organizations, educational institutions and the public. At the Folkemødet the participants debate current political issues.