Sustainable development goals conference image
Friday 27 March 2020 - 09.30
Paris, France

Following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations in 2015, higher education has had a key role in tackling those challenges.

Students have been recently calling universities to accelerate actions towards reaching the SDGs, notably regarding climate change. In several European countries, students’ associations are advocating for revised curricula highlighting sustainable development and impactful initiatives on campuses. 

In line with this, the British Council and Université PSL are organising an international policy dialogue on the role of European universities towards reaching the SDGs.

Bringing together university presidents from across Europe, UN experts and government officials, this conference will shed light on the best practices on sustainable development education and University Social Responsibility initiatives. Throughout three different panel discussions, the various guest speakers will be sharing hands-on experiences and debate together around the following key questions:

  • What are the roles and responsibilities for European Universities in promoting knowledge and debate about achieving the SDGs?
  • To what extent have universities integrated global challenges within their curricula?
  • What are the concrete examples of successful green campuses initiatives?
  • Regarding the carbon footprint of global exchanges, how can the students’ invaluable international experience be guaranteed in the future?
  • As for social responsibility, what are the concrete actions taken in Europe to foster diversity and inclusion among the student and teaching bodies?
  • What changes in campus policies would be required to visualize the net-zero carbon university? 

Dialogue Programme

  • 09.30 - 10.00  Arrivals and welcome
  • 10.00 - 10.30 Welcome words
    • Alain Fuchs, President, Université PSL
    • Bianka Stege, Director Education and Society, EU Region, British Council
  • 10.30 - 11.30 Scene Setting: Roles and responsibilities for European universities towards reaching the SDGs
    • Celia Partridge, Assistant Director, Universities UK International
    • Hilligje Van’t Land, General Secretary, International Association of Universities
    • Isabelle Huault, President, Dauphine-PSL
  • 11.30 - 13.00  Panel discussion 1: New ways of teaching: responding to students’ claims for more SDGs and climate change education
    • Willemijn Dicke, Director International Strategy, VSNU 
    • Esther Loiseleur, member of Jeunes ambassadeurs pour le climat, ENS-PSL & EHESS
    • Lizzie Hunter, Student Sustainability Officer, Queen Mary University of London
    • Carole Meffre, member of Collectif pour un Réveil Ecologique
    • Emmanuel Tibloux, Director, EnsAD
  • 13.00 - 14.30  Lunch and visits of EnsAD art labs
  • 14.30 - 15.45 Panel discussion 2: Dealing with global challenges: how to design impactful interdisciplinary programmes?
    • Maria Kirrane, Sustainability Officer, University College Cork
    • Julie Gwilliam, Dean of Postgraduate Studies College of Physical Sciences & Engineering, Cardiff University
    • Alessia Lefebure, Dean of Academic Affairs, EHESP 
    • Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director, UN SDSN
  • 15.45 - 17.30  Panel discussion 3: University Social and Environmental Responsibility: European best practices
    *   Andreas Wanke, Freie Universität Berlin, Director for Sustainability 
  • 17.30 - 18.00 Closing words
  • 18.00 – 21.00 Cocktail and art exhibition visit (joint ChimieParis/EnsAD/MinesParis exhibition on science and design for sustainable development)


If you are interested and wish to know more, we invite you to send an email to

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Universities and higher education