First Canadian UN leadership training centre opening at York
As a leader in the effort to build a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable world, York University and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) are proud to announce the establishment of Canada’s first Centre International de Formation des Acteurs Locaux (CIFAL).
CIFAL centres provide innovative training throughout the world and serve as hubs for the exchange of knowledge among government officials, the private sector, academia and civil society.
York Region was selected as the new home of this global initiative. York’s Markham Centre Campus will be the proud home of CIFAL York when it is open and operational. This new partnership with UNITAR recognizes York’s leadership in advancing fundamental and applied research, innovation and ability to work across traditional boundaries in pioneering new approaches that will help meet society’s most urgent demands.
CIFAL York will be uniquely positioned to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals around emergency and disaster management, diversity and inclusion, economic development, health and entrepreneurship. The new centre will be a catalyst for positive change and extend York’s global reach that already includes more than 300 university, industry and NGO partners in more than 70 countries.
“The world is facing complex global problems – from the climate crisis to inequality to rapid technological change to the pandemic – that call for collaboration across sectors and across countries to solve," said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. "The creation of this CIFAL Centre, in partnership with UNITAR, will enable us to bring leaders from governments, not-for-profits, and industry together with researchers and educators to share experiences and expertise, and to train new generations of global leaders. We are proud to host CIFAL York as part of our commitment to building a healthier and more just, sustainable and prosperous world.”
In addition, CIFAL York will provide a platform for dialogue and a forum for the development of new ideas by providing public servants, decision-makers and academics in the Western Hemisphere learning opportunities that facilitate knowledge sharing and improve decision-making processes.
“York University’s outsized reputation made it an obvious choice when the United Nations, through UNITAR, started thinking of partnering with an academic institution in Canada to share knowledge and best practices," said Nikhil Seth, UN assistant secretary general and executive director of UNITAR. “I count academic institutions as one of UNITAR’s most indispensable allies, without whom we cannot hope to achieve the 2030 Agenda.”
York also announced that Professor Ali Asgary has agreed to become the new director of CIFAL York. In collaboration with the associate director, Associate Professor Idil Boran, the important work of establishing strategic partnerships to advance the vision will begin June 1 in temporary offices at York’s Keele Campus.
“York Regional Council and the Regional Municipality of York are proud of the strong partnerships shared with York University and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, which have led to a more welcoming and inclusive community for all who call York Region home," said Wayne Emmerson, York Region Chair and CEO. "In welcoming a CIFAL Centre to York University, we are further expanding collaborative opportunities between all levels of government, international organizations, the business community and the public sector to continue building strong, caring, safe communities where everyone can develop to their full potential.”
CIFAL York is one of 22 training centres for government authorities around the world and will facilitate face-to-face or online training activities such as seminars, courses, national and international events. It will also seek to empower local, regional, and international authorities to promote intersectoral partnership and co-operation and improve the well-being of their citizens. Since its inception in 2003, the CIFAL network has reached more than 30,000 beneficiaries through over 400 learning events.