SDSN Canada

Hosted by:
  • University of Waterloo in partnership with the Waterloo Global Science Initiative
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

SDSN Canada is focused on three main objectives: to develop an SDG-oriented research agenda for Canada; to cultivate high-quality SDG education; and to galvanize support throughout the country to achieve the SDGs. As the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada moves from a public health emergency to the early stages of recovery, SDSN Canada is now considering how its work can focus on supporting ‘building back better’ to achieve the sustainability objectives of the SDGs.


Together|Ensemble, co-created by the network, is Canada’s annual national conference devoted to tracking progress on the SDGs. An inclusive pan-Canadian SDG gathering for academia, civil society, business, youth, and government to advance implementation and collaboration on the SDGs, the 2020 conference was hosted online in May (sessions were recorded and available to view online). The conference aims include sharing SDG work happening across the country and mobilizing new partnerships, innovations and pathways for progress on the SDGs.

SDG Student Alliances

In partnership with SDSN Youth, the SDSN Canada Youth Coordinator oversaw and mentored six student SDG Campus Coordinators on member campuses. The Campus Coordinators built SDG hubs and student alliances to further youth action for the SDGs. SDSN Canada also co-hosted a meeting of youth from across the country focused on how to build a strong network to advance the SDGs on campus, including how to build administrative partnerships and lead effective advocacy campaigns.

Joint Initiatives with Members

To spur collaboration between network members, SDSN Canada issued a challenge to its members to take urgent action on the SDGs. The challenge outlines six ways for campus leaders to take action, including aligning institutional reporting to the SDGs and pursuing new research focused on SDG achievement. SDSN Canada has also created a seed funding initiative to support members to work together to develop research that addresses the economic, social, and/or environmental responses to COVID-19 that will lead to achieving one or more of the SDGs in Canada.

Looking Ahead

The network has several initiatives planned for the year ahead, including:

  • Collaborating within SDSN to build a global community of practice to share approaches and best practices on reporting on the SDGs in post-secondary institutions.
  • Developing a pilot program with members to create ‘evidence gap maps’ to identify existing evidence that can help answer pertinent SDG policy issues in Canada.
  • Working with municipalities across the country to pilot the creation of Voluntary Local Reviews that align the SDGs with municipal plans.

The University of Waterloo is home to Canada’s largest Faculty of Environment and has researchers and institutes across campus working on every facet of sustainability and
social justice. Consistently ranked Canada’s most innovative university, the University of Waterloo is home to advanced research and teaching in science and engineering, mathematics and computer science, health, environment, arts and social sciences.

Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI) has been catalyzing collective action since 2009. The conversations they host bring people with diverse viewpoints together, prompting multi-disciplinary, inclusive collaboration to address sustainable development challenges. By combining the results of these cross-cutting conversations with the science and technology of today, WGSI and their network take answers from paper to the real world, addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in sectors such as energy, education, and beyond.