York named academic lead in UN’s new global Water Academy, a first of its kind

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York University’s growing area of strength in water research, strong local and global relationships, and commitment to positive change has resulted in the University being named academic lead in the United Nation’s (UN) new Water Academy.

The first-of-its-kind Water Academy brings together public and private sector partners from around the world to establish an innovative water training and education resource. Announced by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) at the UN 2023 Water Conference, held in New York City between March 22 and 24, the Water Academy is a global multi-sector collaboration. 

“By working together with UNITAR, York University demonstrates the important role of higher education in addressing societal issues and advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through scholarship and activism,” said Rhonda Lenton, York’s president and vice-chancellor. “The University’s strengths in interdisciplinary research in water sustainability make York well-equipped to lead the Water Academy with our academic and industry partners as we work to build capacity and provide global access to sustainable water management education.”

York has demonstrated growing strengths across a wide variety of water research. To support this priority, the University launched One Water, a new research centre that enhances capacity to address the diverse aspects of ongoing water sustainability challenges, attract and train future leaders, and find innovative solutions with industrial partners and communities alike. 

“The collaboration with York University to create the Water Academy recognizes its vision and leadership to become Canada’s leader in research into water technologies spanning different sub disciplines including wastewater, drinking water, groundwater and surface water research,” said Nikhil Seth, UN assistant secretary general and executive director of UNITAR. 

The Water Academy is focused on delivering innovative training and building human capacities on pressing water related issues at a large scale. As an education platform for online, offline and immersive learning it has two key objectives: 

  1. To forge skills and knowledge such that water management practices can be replicated and scalable.
  2. To forge awareness and a water culture based on ethics and responsibility that come from a different attitude to how water is perceived and used. 

The Water Conference created an opportunity for Member States, UN entities and stakeholders to share commitments that aim to contribute to the implementation of water-related SDGs and associated targets. These voluntary commitments will be collected in the Water Action Agenda to accelerate progress in the second half of the Water Action Decade 2018-2028 and the second half of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Focused squarely on delivering York’s ambitious academic plan, the University has been bolstering its position as a leader in creating a more sustainable and inclusive world through innovative academic programs, interdisciplinary research and a comprehensive suite of sustainability focused actions that advance social, economic and environmental priorities. The University ranks 33rd in the world on the most recent Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for contributions towards the UN SDGs, including ranking 51st out of more than 1,400 universities in UN SDG 6, which focuses on clean water. Progress was recently highlighted with the University’s launch of the Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living, a free, open-access resource that features six of York’s world-renowned academics.

Learn more at News @ York.