MENU

About

SFU is recognized as an innovative, community-engaged research university with global impact

Universities have a crucial role to play in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, knowledge generation, education, campus operations, and public engagement. Simon Fraser University's 2025 Sustainability Plan mobilizes the institution to embed climate action throughout our operations, research, academics and community engagement.

This website showcases just some of the many impacts that the SFU community has made across all of the 17 SDGs. Much like the 2025 Plan, this website will constantly evolve and be responsive to the contributions from the community. To get involved, you are encouraged to engage with us
 

A MESSAGE FROM JOY JOHNSON, SFU'S PRESIDENT AND VICE-CHANCELLOR

"Simon Fraser University is a global leader in sustainability. We are at a critical time where we need to come together—on a global scale—to inspire climate action and make a positive impact. SFU will continue to take action to address climate change and promote efforts to build healthier, safer and more resilient communities. Though much has been accomplished within climate action, there is much more that can be done within SFU’s footprint and impact, working together with students, faculty, staff and community. The climate crisis is an intersectional issue, and meaningful action requires input and involvement from stakeholders."

A MESSAGE FROM DUGAN O'NEIL, SFU'S VICE-PRESIDENT RESEARCH AND INTERNATIONAL

"SFU ranks among Canada's top 20 universities for our commitment to sustainability in the 2022 Times Higher Education’s University Impact Rankings that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are redesigning our sustainability initiatives, strategies and resources to build on and scale up the good work over the last two decades. Part of the redesign is grounding this work in a wider framework of the SDGs. We are collaborating and putting appropriate resources together to leverage and enhance sustainability research, partnerships, projects and initiatives that are happening across the university. With the creative energy and contributions from students, faculty, staff and partners, we can not only achieve the targets, but also build community around an important issue. Communities working together to make positive change lead to decreased climate grief and apathy and a higher likelihood of success."
 

HOW SFU IS ADVANCING THE SDGS

The university is dedicated to advancing the 17 goals through four core functional areas: ResearchTeaching and LearningCampus Operations; and Engagement

Research

As one of Canada's top research-intensive universities, SFU’s researchers are advancing strategies and developing climate solutions to improve our collective welfare and ensure a more sustainable future.

IMPACTS

  • SFU's Strategic Research Plan (SRP) identifies priority research challenges to push the limits of discovery and knowledge mobilization. Success in tackling these challenges rests on the ability to draw from fundamental research and applied research. The SRP directly contributes to the UN's SDGs and addresses environmental concerns to create a sustainable future
  • Between 2016 and 2020, SFU has 5,442 research publications that align with one or more of the SDGs 
  • SFU has 45 Research Centres and Institutes that carry out work that directly contributes to the achievement of the SDGs  
  • Between January 2016 and September 2021, a total of 1,727 research grants aligning with one or more SDGs were awarded to SFU researchers 
  • Between summer 2018 and spring 2021 there were a total of 1,688 Master’s and PhD-level theses published by SFU students aligning with one or more SDGs
  • SFU authors published articles in collaboration with scholars from 154 countries that align with one or more of the SDGs 
  • Learn more about SFU's research performance, including our positioning within the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

TEACHING AND LEARNING

Ranked as one of Canada’s top comprehensive universities for over a decade, SFU is committed to innovative education to empower the next generation of leaders to protect our planet.

impacts

  • In the last three academic years (2018/19; 2019/20; 2020/21) SFU has offered 231 sustainability or sustainable development-related courses. A total of 39,979 students have enrolled in these courses over the past three academic years
  • 24 of these courses—representing 4,858 students—align with most or all of the SDGs
  • We have also offered five undergraduate programs (majors and minors) in sustainability or sustainable development. A total of 1,397 students have enrolled in these five programs since 2018
  • SFU International mobilizes SFU’s research and expertise to support global development and sustainability initiatives
  • In 2016, in response to the global refugee crisis, SFU began a coordinated and multi-pronged approach to refugee-related issues. SFU engages refugee communities in a variety of ways including research, scholarships and support services for refugee students and community engagement. Over the past 3 years, we have partnered with over 30 local, national and international stakeholders and have engaged with over 2000 people in 30 community events
  • SFU is among more than a dozen Canadian universities to sign a charter furthering their commitment to addressing global climate change. Under the charter, the universities pledge to adopt responsible investment guidelines that follow recognized standards, such as the UN-supported Principles of Responsible Investment
  • SFU is a member of the International Sustainable Campus Network, a global network of nearly 100 higher education institutions in 30 countries. Network institutions work collaboratively to increase sustainability best practices in their campus operations, research and teaching

Campus operations

Across all three campuses, SFU continues to minimize its environmental footprint through campus operations, plans and policies and infrastructure sustainability. Aligning with the United Nations' objective of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, SFU is on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent and shift half of its energy use to renewables by 2025.

Impacts

  • Nine tonnes of CO2e avoided annually due to lower 20 degree base temperature at SFU's Burnaby and Vancouver campuses
  • Since 2016, SFU’s GHG emissions have been reduced by 35% compared to 2007 levels, despite growth in total building area by 23%
  • GHG reductions are expected to reach 69% this year, exceeding SFU’s 2025 emissions reduction target of 50%
  • The university has already achieved the 2025 target to cut the carbon footprint of the investment portfolio by 45% relative to the 2016 baseline
  • SFU has divested $340M of fossil fuel investments over the past five years
  • 260,000 water bottles avoided annually
  • SFU is first and only Canadian institution to ban all single-use plastics beverage bottles
  • 168 water refill stations across all three campuses—making SFU one of the top universities in Canada with refill stations
  • 100,000 plastic bags avoided annually
  • 454,000 to-go beverage containers recycled through an innovative, solar-powered container system between November 2019 and June 2021
  • 44,833 chopsticks (and therefore 61.6 Kg of CO2e offset) recycled between September 2019 and March 2020
  • Gold Fair Trade Campus certification achieved for 2021-2022

COMMUNITY AND GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU is an active community and global partner, helping to facilitate productive conversations about issues of public concern. We are committed to global sustainability. 

Impacts

  • Between 2016 and 2021, SFU stakeholders hosted 66 podcasts, 62 panel events and 58 public lectures around one or more of the SDGs—with SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 13 (climate action) being profiled the most
  • SFU has more than 280 international partnerships in 20 countries for research, experiential learning, academic collaborations and sustainable development projects. Our strong network of partners allow us to work together, across disciplines, sectors and countries, to mobilize on the SDGs at a global scale
  • SFU’s membership in networks such as the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), University Social Responsibility Network (USRN), Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (IOHE) and the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) network—which focus on the SDGs—allow us to collaborate globally to advance these goals
  • Since 2019, SFU has participated in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, the only global platform that assesses universities performance against the SDGs. Ranking in Canada's top 20 in 2022, SFU has demonstrated its potential to be a global leader in advancing this global commitment
  • In 2022, SFU ranked eighth in the world and third in Canada for sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), and within the top 10 in the country for climate action (SDG 13) and peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16)