& Collectively Designed
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) was created during the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The partners of the initiative are UN-DESA, UNESCO, UNEP, UN Global Compact's Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, UNU and UN-Habitat. With a membership of almost 300 universities from around the world, HESI accounts for more than one-third of all the voluntary commitments that came out of Rio +20.
HESI provides higher education institutions with a unique interface between education, science, and policy making, HESI regularly participates in UNO events (UN Decade of education for sustainable development in Nagoya COP21 in Paris , Partnership Exchange in NYC , UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito ... ).
HESI supports and deploys the committments made at Rio in 2012, including the need to measure progress in spreading the concept of sustainable development.
HESI also supports the Sulitest as a tangible and concreate implementation of its mission.
By joining the HESI, Chancellors, Presidents, Rectors, Deans and leaders of Higher Education Institutions and related organizations, acknowledged the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development.
They agree to teach sustainable development concepts, encourage research on sustainable development issues, green their campuses, support sustainability efforts in their communities and share results through international frameworks.
The United Nations Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda was held in September 2015, in New York and convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly. On this occasion, numerous initiatives were registered in support of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Sulitest was highlighted as one of the featured initiatives of UN partnerships for SDGs
On January 1st 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were deployed. Over the next fifteen years, countries, organizations and citizens have been called to “mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.”
As a tool for raising SD knowledge and awareness, Sulitest indirectly contributes to raising awareness about each one of the 17 SDGs. However, the Sulitest contributes directly to 2 key goals:
The Sulitest was designed to be used by higher education institutions to further research, pedagogy, knowledge and skills assessment in SD. The platform and test primary mission is to educate for sustainable development and action. Our proactive strategy, to make the test available for free to a all students in higher education throughout the world is perfectly in line with the target 4.7 (Sustainability Literacy for All)
The V2 of the test is now available to a wider public (companies, institutions, NGO's) and has broadened its impact while promoting the adoption of behaviors and consumer habits for to build more sustainable economic models and practices.
In October 2016, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), Division for Sustainable Development, proposes a collaboration with Sulitest. In support of the follow-up and review framework of the 2030 Agenda, UN-DESA will develop questions around the SDGs (SDGs questions) to be implemented in the sulitest platform to students of Higher Education Institutions. The result from these questions could help identify gaps in knowledge on sustainable development.
The UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development held in Aishi Nagoya – Japan in November 2014, set the agenda for ESD for the decade to come.
On this occasion, two major questions were raised for Higher Education Institutions:
The Sulitest was presented as an innovative tool created by and for the international academic community to evaluate students’ knowledge in these critical areas, regardless of the field or level of study. (download the first one year report)
The Global Action Programme (GAP), an official follow-up to the United Nations Decade of ESD, has identified 5 priority action areas.
Thanks to HESI, member of the GAP Partner Networks, Sulitest contributes to the Priority Action Area 2 (Transforming learning and training environments) with the goal of “integrating sustainability principles into education and training settings”.
The Sulitest is created by and for an open community of users. This collaborative and iterative process mobilizes local/regional communities and transnational communities of academics, professionals and students. Version 1 was customized in nineteen different countries/regions.
Version 2 of the Sulitest includes an update of existing questions AND still is working on developing new questions, especially regional specific ones. The content of the test will continue to be co-created by contributors and moderators from the community.
To be relevant around the world, all the questions are validated by credible sources that are subject to a broad consensus in the community of sustainability researchers and practitioners from diverse fields. For example:
Literature on the founding principles of sustainable development, including basic definitions (sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, socially responsible investment, social entrepreneurship, etc.)
Key academics, scientists, global and local leaders and citizens groups
Trends and key figures of global issues covering environmental, social and economic dimensions. (demographics, biodiversity, climate change, etc.)
Sources taken from international texts and agreements (international reports, UN conventions, etc.)
Reports and surveys from specialized national agencies (scientific publications, government reports, environmental agencies, human rights organizations, etc.)
Core topics and issues addressed in ISO 26000, the International Standard for Social Responsibility of Organizations.
To ensure credibility and free academic inquiry, the Sulitest is an autonomous entity for the common good. Therefore a clear separation between supporting partners and their influence on the content of the test is guaranteed by the governance structure and processes.
As the community regularly renews all sets of questions, Partners are invited, like any citizen, to propose questions, but the Partners may in no way directly impact the contents of the test to serve their interests.
The diverse Sulitest community alone choses and validates the content of this collaborative tool.
The Sulitest’s mission is to evolve, improve regularly and remain relevant.
Clearly no test will ever guarantee that students, professionals and citizens will behave responsibly and make ethical decisions. Anyone can have knowledge about crucial social and environmental issues and choose not to act; or worse, take unethical advantage of the situation. Similarly, "knowledge about the challenges" does not mean "knowledge of possible courses of responsible and ethical action”.
We acknowledge and accept the epistemological limits of this tool, but we are convinced of its potential to further common good and value in education for sustainability. At the very least, the Sulitest is a potentially powerful tool for raising awareness about these urgent issues and need for action and change in addressing sustainability challenges.