On 25 September 2015, all 193 UN member states agreed on 17 universal and ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be achieved by 2030. These goals reflect the three major aspects of the global challenges we face, namely economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. As one of the most vulnerable members of the global community, Afghanistan observes very serious challenges in all three of the mentioned aspects of the SDGs. To achieve the SDGs in the country, Afghanistan’s government announced a strong commitment to this agenda, anchoring it in its eight budgetary sectors of security, education, economics, health, governance, infrastructure, social protection, agriculture, and rural development.
Around the globe, universities play a tangible role in achieving the SDGs through research, education, operations and governance, and external leadership. They provide knowledge, innovations, and solutions to the SDGs, create current and future SDG implementers, demonstrate how to support, adopt, and implement the SDGs in governance, operations, and culture, as well as develop cross-sectoral leadership to guide the SDG response (SDSN Australia, New Zealand & Pacific, 2018).
Today universities contribute significantly to attaining the SDGs in the country. However, no Afghan university has formally committed itself to contributing to achieve the SDGs in the country. To review the status quo of universities’ contributions in accomplishing the SDGs in Afghanistan, Kateb University plans to arrange the first-ever conference inviting all stakeholders and particularly universities and SDG practitioners to brainstorm and lay down the foundation for working together towards implementing SDGs in Afghanistan. The conference will be the first kick-off gathering to enable participants to take decisions on collaborative works pertaining to SDGs in the areas of learning and teaching, research, organizing seminars and conferences, and other academic activities.
As stated above, the SDGs aim to provide solutions to the most complex problems facing all nations around the globe. Education, innovation, research, and leadership are some of the essentials helping countries to address these challenges. Universities are the hub for creation and dissemination of knowledge and have a unique position within the society, playing critical roles in the provision of solutions for how to achieve the SDGs. In short, none of the SDGs will be accomplished without the invaluable involvement of universities who take active parts as solution providers for achieving them. Contributing areas for universities in achieving SDGs can be along the four following categories: