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HLPF 2020 Virtual Exhibition: IAU, ACU & AUF


Universities and higher education institutions accelerating action for Agenda 2030 and SDGs: AUF, ACU and IAU presenting joint projects and partnerships for a more sustainable future.

This virtual exhibition is organized by the partner associations International Association of Universities (IAU), l’Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) & the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). The partnership of ACU, AUF, and IAU accelerates the engagement of higher education for the Agenda 2030, as the associations together represent more than 2,000 global HEIs globally. They share their commitment to improving higher education for a more sustainable future and advocate for a Whole-Institution-Approach (WIA) to sustainability. Already at the HLPF 2019, the three partners collaborated and co-organized events, and released a joint statement on Higher education’s essential contribution to the SDGs. The associations jointly advocate for collaborative approaches to sustainability and are in the process of signing a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU).

This page presents the partners’ work and link to related websites and resources.

International Association of Universities (IAU)

Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)

Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF)


The International Association of Universities (IAU) is the global Association of higher education institutions and organisations from around the world.

IAU brings together Members from more than 120 countries for reflection and action on common concerns. IAU is an independent, non-governmental organization and an official partner of UNESCO (Associate status). It acts as the Voice of Higher Education globally and provides a global forum for leaders of institutions and associations to debate and learn from each other and to cooperate. Its services are available on the priority basis to Members but also to organisations, institutions and authorities concerned with higher education, as well as to individual policy and decision-makers, specialists, administrators, teachers, researchers and students.

>> Not a Member of IAU yet? Learn more about the benefits of being a Member!

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is an international organisation dedicated to building a better world through higher education. International collaboration is central to this ambition: by bringing universities together from around the world - and crucially the people who study and work within them - the ACU helps to advance knowledge, promote understanding, broaden minds, and improve lives.

The ACU champions higher education as a cornerstone of stronger societies, supporting its members, partners, and stakeholders as they adapt to a changing world.

The Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) brings together 1007 universities, grandes écoles, university networks and scientific research centres in 119 countries. Created nearly 60 years ago, it is one of the largest associations of higher education and research institutions in the world. It is also the operator for higher education and research of the Francophonie Summit. As such, it implements, within its field of competence, the resolutions adopted by the Conference of Heads of State and Government of Countries Using French as a common language.

With respect for the diversity of cultures and languages, the AUF acts for a Francophone university committed to the economic, social and cultural development of societies. According to its 2017-2021 strategy, it supports higher education and research institutions in meeting 3 major challenges: the quality of training, research and university governance; the professional integration and employability of graduates; and involvement in the overall development of societies.

Commitments to the SDGs

Sustainable development forms one of IAU’s key strategic priorities since 2016. IAU developped policy statements:
- IAU Iquitos Statement on Education for Sustainable Development adopted in 2016 at the General Conference - IAU Members commit to build synergies and promote collaboration in favour of sustainable development.

- The IAU Kyoto Declaration on Sustainable Development adopted in 1993 - IAU Members urge all universities worldwide to undertake research and action to achieve sustainable development.

The ACU’s strategic plan – ’The road to 2030’ – reinforces its fundamental belief that global challenges can only be solved through international collaboration, and collective commitment to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through higher education. It builds on the ACU’s longstanding role as a champion of the importance of higher education in sustainable development, experience of convening networks that tackle global challenges, and engagement with existing initiatives such as:
- the SDG Accord,
- SDG:Learn
- the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

In the current AUF strategy(2017-2021), Sustainable development plays an important role. AUF stressed that, while the international agenda has gained momentum in parallel with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period 2015-2030, for the first time, these goals recognize for an explicit place for higher education. AUF intends to play its role and accompany its member institutions in the implementation of actions in the service of development. These objectives are also found in those of the institutional Francophonie, and in those of the Paris and Marrakech Conference of Parties (COP 21 and COP 22) in the field of climate change.

AUF’s main project related to the SDGs is ACTIF (Action for Francophone Innovation)


>>> Mapping HESD worldwide:
- IAU HESD Global Portal: the IAU HESD portal is a tool accessible to all, spotlighting IAU Members’ and Partners’ contributions to the sustainable development goals. The aim is to generate synergies and networking around the world in favour of sustainable development. The portal features more than 700 initiatives and counts some 1000 monthly visitors.

>>>Researching HESD trends:
- IAU HESD global survey 2019
- IAU HESD global survey 2016 In 2016, the IAU launched its first global survey on the role of higher education in fostering sustainable development. The aim was to analyse IAU Members’ approaches to sustainable development. 120 institutions from all continents took part in the survey. In 2019, the IAU launched its second global survey on HESD. Next to analysing IAU Members’ approaches to sustainable development, it focused on the knowledge and implementation of the SDGs within the framework of the Agenda 2030. The 2019 survey counted 536 valid responses from 428 universities in 101 distinct countries.

>>> IAU Global Cluster on HESD: The IAU Global Cluster on HESD promotes the role and potential that HEIs globally have in order to achieve the SDGs and Agenda 2030. Each SDG is led by an expert and a subcluster out of different universities all over the globe. The Cluster encourages collaboration and a holistic approach to the SDGs, focusing specifically on the whole institution approach.

- Higher Education and the SDGs Network – a forum for academics, practitioners and students at universities across the Commonwealth who are directly engaging in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda. The network focuses on SDG engagement in five key areas: teaching and learning; research; sustainable operations; engagement and impact; and partnerships.

- Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network – this network brings universities together to share practical expertise and experience of building resilience to climate change and natural disasters, and to encourage joint action to address the practical needs of universities and communities.Commonwealth Peace and Reconciliation Network – an interdisciplinary collective of academics, researchers and professional staff looking at truth-telling and reconciliation in society and within universities themselves. Its three working groups focus on teaching and learning; research; and institutional reform.

- ACTIF programme is AUF’s main initiativ. It is an international collaboration programme for social and solidarity innovation, with a networking and financing role in the French-speaking world)

- Projects

  • C-NEUF Project -14 projects, for example - Development in the Dominican Republic-Cuba
  • SafirCampus Project (training in social and solidarity economy)
  • RéSACE Project (Réseau Solidaire d’Accompagnement à la Création d’Entreprises)
  • Observatoire Francophone du Genre Project
  • IFADEM Project (Initiative Francophone pour la Formation A Distance des Maîtres).
  • PRISA University Cooperation Program (Inter-University Solidarity Project in the Americas)


>>> IAU Horizons (vol. 24.1) on Universities and Agenda 2030: Engaging with the SDGs

>>> IAU Publication Series on SDGs:
- Higher Education & SDG 13 : Climate Action Through University Teaching, Research and Community Engagement

- A publication on SDG 5 to be published soon.

- Higher Education: global engagement to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 – report from a joint ACU/Wilton Park event held in January 2020

- The Bibliothèque de l’espace universitaire francophone numérique (BNEUF) provides access to most of the documentary, educational, scientific and cultural resources offered by members of the French-speaking world, including resources related to sustainable development.


- The International Association of Universities and BBC StoryWorks produced a series of short films - IAU Aiming Higher - related to IAU strategic priorities including sustainable development with IAU Member universities.

- IAU has collected a list of recordings of virtual events related to the SDGs , freely accessible online!

- Universities to intensify efforts to keep Sustainable Development Goals on track - blog post by Professor Dhanjay Jhurry, Vice Chancellor, University of Mauritius

- How our institution is tackling the Sustainable Development Goals and helping communities in India - blog post by Dr Maneesha V Ramesh - Dean, International Programs and Director, AMRITA Center for Wireless Networks - Applications, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, India

- Moving from pockets of excellence to interdisciplinary approaches to make an impact - blog post by Professor José Frantz - Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), University of the Western Cape, South Africa

- Organisation of the Campus Challenge 2030
- Organisation of the Trophée des Campus Responsables francophones and also partner for IGGA
- Organisation of the Innovation Day 2020 "The Responsible University".
- Creation of a label for French-speaking social and solidarity innovation
- Co-financing of MOOC initiatives



The International Association of Universities (IAU), the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), and the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) have agreed to joint collaboration to advance and promote the contribution of higher education to meeting the shared global challenges. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is currently under process and will be signed soon by Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General, IAU, Slim Khalbous, Rector, AUF, and Joanna Newman, Secretary General, AUF.

IAU Aiming Higher - Inspiring Values for a Better Future

Discover the complete IAU Aiming Higher video series produced by BBCStoryWorks!

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