May 3, 2021

Sustainability ranking demonstrates UCalgary’s global impact

UCalgary ranks in top 5% globally for sustainability
Students, faculty, guest speakers and staff take part at the 2018 Sustainability Report at UCalgary. Note: Photo was taken pre-COVID.
Students, faculty, guest speakers and staff take part at the 2018 Sustainability Report at UCalgary. Riley Brandt, 2018.

Behind every number is a story. In the case of the University of Calgary’s latest Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking score, this number speaks to the collective efforts of UCalgary students, faculty and staff from across the institution who are working to reduce poverty and inequalities, advance good health and well-being, accelerate climate action and more.

In April 2021, Times Higher Education (THE) released its University Impact Ranking (UIR), which annually explores the diverse efforts universities are making to progress the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This year, UCalgary scored 43rd out of 1,150 institutions from 94 countries, maintaining its position within the top five per cent of research institutions from around the world and top six overall in Canada.

“This ranking is a testament of our commitment to helping to build a more sustainable world,” says Dr. Teri Balser, UCalgary's provost and vice-president (academic). “It reflects our entrepreneurial spirit in developing local and global solutions through research, future-focused academic programs, and collaboration with community partners. Our Growth Through Focus commitment to transdisciplinary scholarship and deepening partnerships will enable UCalgary to grow our impact on the pressing and complex sustainability challenges of this 21st century.”

About the University Impact Rankings

The University Impact Ranking is the only widely used, global performance tool that assesses universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Using specific key performance indicators across four areas: research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship, the ranking provides a comprehensive comparison between research institutions.

Some key areas where UCalgary was recognized for its leadership in progressing the Sustainable Development Goals are profiled below, along with a select few corresponding initiatives:

Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-being

  • Building Health Equity in Global Communities: The Cumming School of Medicine’s Global Health team facilitates and leads health equity education, research and partnership initiatives worldwide.
  • Building Health Equity in our Local Communities: The Cumming School of Medicine’s Indigenous, Local and Global Health Office works with community partners to reduce health disparities among populations in marginalized settings in Calgary and Southern Alberta.
  • Building a Caring Community: The Campus Mental Health Strategy has introduced institutional policies, programs, events, and funding opportunities to reduce stigma and build capacity for mental health and well-being on campus

Goal 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Research and Advocacy for Affordable Housing: Working with The City of Calgary and other local authorities, the School of Architecture, Landscape and Planning is addressing planning and development issues to advocate on behalf of affordable housing through the House Futures international research initiative.
  • Building a Better Calgary: Tackling challenges such as transportation, waste reduction, energy and environment, youth crime, homelessness, poverty reduction and creating inclusive communities through cutting-edge research endeavours through the Urban Alliance — a strategic partnership between UCalgary and The City of Calgary.
  • Building a Better Campus: Demonstrating best practices in green building construction through 14 LEED certified buildings and a Zero-Carbon Building Certified project — one of the largest concentrations of green buildings on any post-secondary campus in Canada.

Goal 15 – Life on Land

“The 2021 THE ranking is something the entire campus community can take great pride in. An incredibly diverse number of groups and individuals across campus have contributed to this outcome,” says Joanne Perdue, associate vice-president (sustainability). “The SDGs are a powerful framework for broadening our understanding of sustainable development, whether you connect to one goal or many, the SDGs offer everyone the opportunity to understand how they can advance sustainability.”

While the numbers and data tell one story, the countless individuals engaged through each of these initiatives tell us another. When considering the cumulative impact of these efforts on communities at home and around the world, the true value is impossible to quantify.

Resources for more information

To learn more about sustainability at UCalgary, visit our 2020 Institutional Sustainability Report.

For more information on the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings and past performance, visit the Impact Rankings website.

About the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The 17 Goals were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the Goals.

With just under ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders at the SDG Summit in September 2019 called for a Decade of Action and delivery for sustainable development, and pledged to mobilize financing, enhance national implementation and strengthen institutions to achieve the Goals by the target date of 2030, leaving no one behind.

About UCalgary's Sustainability Strategy

The University of Calgary’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy provides a road map for continuous improvement in our pursuit of excellence and leadership in sustainability. We aim to be a Canadian post-secondary education leader in sustainability in our academic and engagement programs, administrative and operational practices and through supporting community and industry in their aims for leadership in sustainability. Learn more about UCalgary’s leadership in sustainability