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Aarhus University puts the UN Sustainable Development Goals on the map

Aarhus University is to hold a conference on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The conference will bring together key players in our continued cooperation with the outside world to get deep and broad knowledge out into society. Connie Hedegaard will be the keynote speaker at the "Partnerships for a sustainable future - on the UN Sustainable Development Goals" conference, which will take place on Monday, 4 February.

As a planet, we are facing challenges demanding action and partnerships between academia, industry and society. If there's one thing humans have demonstrated throughout their history, it is that together we can adapt and change when we have to.

This is the theme for the "Partnerships for a sustainable future - on the UN Sustainable Development Goals" conference, taking place in Aarhus on 4 February. The influence of climate change, the costs of conflict and the needs for food and energy of a growing population are evident throughout the world.

In 2015, at the UN Summit in New York, the world's heads of state and government adopted an unprecedented transformative development agenda with 17 specific sustainability goals. These goals obligate all UN member countries to combat poverty and hunger, to ensure good education and better health for all, and to seek more sustainable economic growth.

"The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a very strong initiative, and we in Denmark should make every effort to meet them and develop them further. We have a very good starting point, thanks to visionary research and good knowledge exchange between universities and industry," says Connie Hedegaard, chair of the Aarhus University Board.

Internationally and in Denmark, the UN Sustainable Development Goals will increasingly be a common frame of reference for public enterprises, companies and educational institutions, when the debate addresses a desirable future for us all and for society as a whole.

If the goals are to be met, Danish universities have a special responsibility to support change in society by providing knowledge, evidence-based solutions and technology that can help realise the objectives. But they cannot do it alone, and this is at the core of the aims of the conference. It will take partnerships to transform education and health systems, energy consumption, food production and urban planning.

"We have a huge potential at the university to forge more strong alliances and to bring research, education and technological development even more into cooperation between public and private players. Therefore, I’m pleased to see the great interest in the conference, and I look forward to the specialist contributions and the debate on how we can establish even better partnerships for a sustainable future," says Connie Hedegaard.

The 350 delegates at the conference represent a broad cross-section of Danish industry, organisations, government agencies and knowledge organisations in Denmark. The programme includes presentations by four research directors, each of whom is at the forefront of important research areas for the Sustainable Development Goals: bio-based communities, smart cities, health in a global perspective, and how we can all be sustainable consumers.

The conference will also showcase 21 specific examples of collaboration projects, innovative technologies and the latest research at presentation stands with researchers and students from the university, as well as a number of partners within industry and society.