The Contribution of UNESCO Chairs toward Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Published: 28 November 2018
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The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to enhance peace, security, and sustainable development by fostering international collaboration. Based on this aim, it stands to reason that the organization ought to contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this research, we examined how an important program of UNESCO, the UNESCO Chairs, contributes to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Specifically, we studied the activities of 34 UNESCO Chairs from seven countries of the Northern Hemisphere (Germany, Iceland, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) to assess the contribution of the chairs toward the UN SDGs. The data for this study are based on in-depth narrative interviews, and we used Hermeneutic Content Analysis, a mixed methods framework, for analysis. Our results show that, unsurprisingly, all chairs contribute to UN SDG 4 (Quality Education) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) based on their extensive research and teaching activities. Interestingly, their academic focal areas contribute to specific UN SDG clusters. Using Multidimensional Scaling, we analyzed the UN SDG clusters across different focal areas to reveal the implicit models of sustainability among the chairs. Our findings have implications on the limits of how UNESCO Chairs conceptualize sustainability and show how this has positive and negative consequences on their contribution toward achieving the UN SDGs.