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Awards and recognition

SFU ranked 8th university in the world for impact on sustainable cities and communities

April 27, 2022

Simon Fraser University is ranked once more among the world’s top 10 universities for its commitment to sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), according to the Times Higher Education (THE) 2022 Impact Rankings. SFU is ranked third in Canada for SDG 11 and within the top 10 in the country for climate action (SDG 13) and peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16).

The annual rankings assess universities’ support for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are an urgent call for developed and developing countries to partner globally on key issues that impact us all.
“We’ve heard clearly from our communities that sustainability needs to be a priority,” says SFU President Joy Johnson. “I’m taking this moment to reflect on how proud I am of our sustainability work to date in collaboration with students, faculty and staff—and to think about how we will continue to address climate change and promote efforts to build a healthier, safer and more resilient world.”
This year’s THE Impact Rankings reflect substantive growth in participation in its categories—with 1,406 participating universities from 106 countries—more than double the number since the Impact Rankings’ inception in 2019. Despite stiffer competition, SFU maintains within a top 10 spot for the third year in a row, ranking eighth for SDG 11: sustainable cities and communities.
SFU ranked sixth for SDG 11 out of 1,100 institutions in 2021 and was ranked first among 760 institutions in 2020. Driving its top 10 staying power is SFU’s commitment to sustainability, including new university-wide initiatives and approaches laid out in its five-year sustainability plan (SFU 2025).
“I am grateful to the members of the SFU community who have dedicated an incredible amount of time and effort in working towards sustainable solutions in all that we do,” says Dugan O’Neil, SFU’s vice-president, research and international. “It is also heartening to see that more universities are committing to sustainability and joining the global cause by participating in these rankings.”
O’Neil says this past year, working together, the SFU community has made tremendous progress in grounding our research, teaching and learning, campus operations and community engagement in a wider framework of the SDGs. "Our students, faculty and staff should be very proud.”

In addition to research and community engagement, SFU students continue to thrive in related academic programs such as Urban Studies and others in the faculties of Arts and Social Sciences and Environment

As an early adopter of the impact rankings, SFU has been recognized over the past three years as a global leader in: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesClimate Action; and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

SFU’s sustainability highlights

  • SFU committed to the UN-backed Race To Zero campaign. Ambitious emission reduction targets for the Race To Zero will see an 85 per cent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, net zero reductions of direct emissions by 2035, and net zero of all emissions by 2050.
  • The university is committed to full divestment from fossil fuels by 2025.
  • The SFU Board of Governors approved a move to change its institutional language and has formally declared a global climate emergency.
  • In 2020 SFU moved to eliminate the sale of more than 260,000 individual-use plastic water bottles annually, other than for accessibility purposes, and has since eliminated the sale of all other plastic bottle beverages.
  • SFU was named Canada’s only Fair Trade Gold-certified campus for the second year.
  • SFU Sustainability is updating the goals and targets of SFU 2025. The updates include the integration of the Race To Zero targets, climate resilience planning and climate justice considerations.

Learn more about how the SFU community is supporting the UN's SDGs by visiting www.sfu.ca/sdgs.