The University of the West Indies (The UWI) continues to receive international recognition for its contributions to social and economic impact as well as its pursuit of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The latest acknowledgement comes from the UN’s global network of students, academics, scientists, researchers, think tanks, institutions of higher education, and educational partners, the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI). The UNAI welcomed The UWI as a member on 27 April.
UNAI, an initiative of the Outreach Division of the United Nations Department of Global Communications, was established in 2010 under the leadership of former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon. As a member of UNAI, The UWI joins institutions in more than 145 countries that are aligned closely with the United Nations and tap into research, innovation and scholarship towards the realisation of the organisation’s goals and mandates.
In its mission of “sharing a culture of intellectual social responsibility” UNAI recognises commitment to partnership in areas such as global citizenship; peace and conflict resolution; addressing poverty; sustainability; the “unlearning” of intolerance; commitment to the United Nations Charter; human rights; educational opportunity for all; higher education opportunity for every interested individual and capacity-building in higher education systems.
Commenting on The UWI’s invitation and admittance to the UNAI, Vice-Chancellor Beckles stated, “We took a decision in our last strategic planning cycle to become an activist university; one with its sleeves rolled up in the community, dealing with the big issues of climate change, social justice, economic development and public health within the Caribbean space. We’ve used the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as the framework to mobilise ourselves, and that decision has proven very effective to garner our actions, our policies and our decision-making. However, in dealing with those issues, we recognise and value the importance of partnership, so we are honoured to join this network of like-minded, fine institutions and explore opportunities for collaboration that would take us all further.”
Chief of the United Nations Academic Impact Robert Skinner welcomed The UWI to the UNAI community saying, “We are truly pleased to welcome The University of the West Indies as a member of the UN Academic Impact. As a premier institution of higher education that spans the Caribbean, we know that The UWI will bring a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the UNAI global network. With its focus on the SDGs and the climate crisis, The UWI will have truly meaningful impact as we seek solutions from academia to the world’s greatest challenges.”
The UWI’s Coordinator of its partnership with UNAI Ambassador Gillian Bristol who serves as Director of the University’s Latin American-Caribbean Centre (LACC) added, “As a member of UNAI, The UWI not only joins a network of universities from across the globe, but will have the opportunity to partner with them in research, innovation and higher education to impact global sustainable development. Also through the UNAI platform, The UWI will be able to showcase its scholarship, engage with UN agencies and diplomatic missions, and stage educational events to advance the UN SDGs.”
This latest global recognition and affiliation further affirms The UWI’s efforts as an SDG-engaged University. Global partnerships like this one allow the regional university to lend its research and expertise, as well as expand the opportunities to tackle development challenges regionally and internationally.
The announcement of The UWI’s admission to the UNAI comes on the heels of the release of Times Higher Education’s 2022 Impact Rankings which included The UWI yet again. Marking its third consecutive year of participation in the rankings, The UWI maintained its strong position among the world’s most impactful universities globally, despite a significant increase of over 300 new entrants compared to 2021.