GOAL 2: Research

Integrate climate and sustainability across the research portfolio into research, partnerships, knowledge mobilization, innovation.


Research and Innovation

"How can we maximize our sustainability impact? If we can align research, education, operations, industry partnerships, international relationships and community engagement in just the right way, we can create the most change. A lot of people from across SFU have spent a great amount of time over the last year thinking about how to integrate climate action across all of the pillars of activity at the university. You will see the results of that work in our updated strategic sustainability and climate action plan.”

    — Dugan O'Neil
Vice-President, Research and Innovation

L-R: Mike Boleak, director, research intelligence office; Seychelle Cushing, executive director, strategic partnerships hub; Michael Richards, associate vice-president, research; Diane Hanano, director, institutional strategic awards; Dugan O'Neil, VPRI; Mary Chen, communications and marketing officer, VPRI portfolio; Elicia Maine, associate vice-president, knowledge mobilization and innovation; and Shelley Gair, executive director, VPRI portfolio.


Below are the actions that the VPRI portfolio has taken to support Goal 2: Research. The progress made is included under each action. 

Advance the community-centred climate innovation research priority area

  • As climate change intensifies, impacts will be felt—and changes can be made—at the community level. SFU's unique approach to this is community-centred climate innovation, founded on community partnerships, innovation and a deep commitment to Indigenous knowledges and perspectives. Learn more.

Develop SFU's sustainability and climate research programs and facilities within and beyond the campus boundaries (e.g., Civic Innovation Lab)

Create new and enhance existing supports for sustainability and climate research across the university

  • SFU’s 2023-2028 Strategic Research Plan (SRP) launched in January 2023 and is aligned with the institutional strategic plan. It captures some of the breadth of activities at the university while identifying areas of research strength and focus for that time period. It is accompanied by an implementation plan that identifies specific actions that will be taken to support and enhance the impact of the university in these priority areas. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an international framework covering many of the most pressing issues of our time. Our university and community members are committed to the SDGs and are putting them at the heart of our international engagement framework. Where relevant, links to SDGs are included in the SRP’s priority areas. Learn more at

Establish a system to: streamline sustainability data collection and reporting; provide campus members with on demand access to sustainability data (database); and create an accessible website dashboard for communicating progress

  • SFU's Research Expertise Engine includes over 46,000 titles authored by SFU researchers, searchable by keyword, author, department or faculty. It is currently available to the SFU community and the general public. The database allows SFU researchers to inform about which of the 17 UN SDGs their research contributes to.

Establish SFU’s global framework for adopting, contributing to and communicating about the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) by completing asset mapping and faculty consultation

  • SFU launched a sustainable development goals website showcasing just some of the many impacts that the SFU community has made across all of the 17 UN SDGs. This website will constantly evolve and be responsive to the contributions from the community. Learn more at
  • SFU International—with support from the central SFU Sustainability team—led an SDGs mapping project with the purpose of broadening and deepening SFU's understanding of current activities taking place at the university that contribute to the SDGs locally, nationally and internationally. The project involved gathering quantitative and qualitative data about each of the core functional areas of the institution—research, learning and teaching, operations and engagement—according to pre-identified indicators or information that align activities with the SDGs. The SFU community engaged in the project to generate feedback, ideas and recommendations for deepening SFU's impact on the SDGs. 
  • As the result of the mapping project, the SDG Framework for Global Engagement was created, and shared with the community in March 2023. The intention of this framework is to help guide SFU’s global initiatives and engagement to be aligned with the 17 SDGs. The UN SDG framework was selected partly because it was developed through a global collaborative process that included countries across the world, as well as Indigenous peoples as one of nine core stakeholder groups. An additional benefit of using this SDG lens for our global engagement, is that it provides shared language and objectives amongst institutions upon which to build strong and mutually beneficial partnerships. Our global engagement—using this framework—is guided by SFU's values, as per What's Next: The SFU Strategy. View the SDG Framework for Global Engagement

The SFU Research Community

experts in community-centred climate innovation

As climate change intensifies, impacts will be felt and changes can be made at the community level. SFU's unique approach to this is community-centred climate innovation, founded on community partnerships, innovation and a deep commitment to Indigenous knowledges and perspectives.  

Our community partners can leverage our expertise and capacities to develop climate change solutions that meet their specific needs. 

Meet the experts

Members of the VPRI portfolio

Below are some highlights to share about members of the VPRI portfolio, their commitments to sustainability and climate action, and the great work achieved.  

Engage with Us

If you have any questions or feedback about Goal 2: Research, please contact the central SFU Sustainability team.