ACE Signs Declaration on University Global Engagement
September 24, 2018
By Nico Evers

​ACE has signed on to a joint Declaration on University Global Engagement issued by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the United Nations Institute for Training Research (UNITAR), an opportunity for higher education institutions worldwide to publicly affirm their commitment to global engagement for solving the world’s most pressing problems, as articulated by the global community through the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

ACE members are invited to join the list of higher education institutions committed to these important goals shared worldwide by signing the ALPU-UNITAR declaration. 

U.S. higher education leaders on Sept. 24 attended a formal recognition of the declaration by the U.N. Secretariat during the U.N. General Assembly week. Following the signing there was a strategy and planning session with Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed and other senior delegates from the U.N. to discuss how to mobilize the declaration to action and how the U.N. and higher education institutions can further collaborate.  

Several ACE members have adopted the U.N. SDGs as a framework for organizing their global education and engagement activities to address complex global problems, including Lehigh University (PA), which is one of six universities worldwide recognized as a non-governmental organization by the United Nations, and American University (DC), which offers a sustainable development certificate program.

International higher education institutions have also embraced the SDG framework, including EARTH University in Costa Rica and Groningen University in The Netherlands, which has a three-year bachelor program based on the U.N. SDGs

In addition to the recent APLU-UNITAR declaration, higher education institutions can advance global engagement through several other United Nations initiatives: 

  • The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) aligns institutions of higher education in supporting the United Nations’ goals and mandates, including the promotion and protection of human rights, access to education, sustainability, and conflict resolution. The responsibility for each member institution is to actively demonstrate support of at least one of these principles, such as sustainable development, each year.
  • The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was launched in 2012 to mobilize global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical problem solving for sustainable development and implement the U.N. SDGs. Following their adoption, SDSN is now committed to supporting the implementation of the SDGs at national and international levels.

To learn more about the APLU-UNITAR Declaration, visit

Nico Evers is currently a graduate research associate at ACE. He also serves as director of International Academic Relations and Professor at EARTH University in Costa Rica and is a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Internationalisation of Education, a collaboration of NHL/Stenden University of Applied Sciences and the University of Groningen, Campus Fryslân.