The University of Guelph is among universities worldwide recognized in a new international ranking for using teaching, research, stewardship and sustainable operations to address some of the most serious global challenges.

The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings released today assess universities against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

More than 1,100 universities from more than 80 countries participated in the ranking; this is the first year that U of G has taken part.

“It is gratifying to see our commitment to improving life in Canada and around the world recognized through this prestigious ranking,” said U of G president Dr. Charlotte Yates.

“Finding ways to live and work sustainably, to promote diversity and inclusion, and to have our teaching and research have impact locally and globally is a strategic focus and priority for U of G. It takes dedication and effort from everyone at the University, and this ranking reflects the effectiveness and importance of that commitment.”

Yates added that the rankings carry special meaning this year, with the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 and coming amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impact rankings are based on four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach and teaching. Universities are ranked in up to 17 categories based on the SDGs and overall.

Unveiled in 2016 to help end poverty and hunger and protect the planet, the SDGs include ensuring health and well-being, promoting gender equality, fostering sustainable industry, innovation, infrastructure and communities, and acting on climate change.

U of G placed in the top “100 to 200 universities” category  overall and ranked above the worldwide median in all 12 SDGs submitted, including the following highlights:

  • 13th in the world for clean water and sanitation
  • 24th for zero hunger
  • 61st for partnerships for the SDGs
  • 63rd for responsible consumption and production
  • 65th for gender equality

“U of G is committed to all of the sustainable development goals across our institution,” Yates said. “From our research and teaching to community outreach to diversity and inclusion to stewardship of natural and human resources, it is part of the fabric of our University.”

The Times Higher Education impact ranking is just the latest survey to reflect this commitment, she said.

In late 2020, U of G earned a gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for broad-ranging sustainability efforts and the University’s Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics MBA program was recognized by Corporate Knights for sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

In April 2020, U of G – in partnership with students, faculty and staff – committed to full divestment of holdings with fossil fuel reserves in its endowment fund over a five-year period. This initiative, one of the first among Canadian universities, followed a 2019 commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of U of G’s endowment fund by 10 per cent over two years.

As well, U of G is a signatory to both the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and the Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities.

“The University of Guelph has long recognized the importance of placing fewer demands on the planet,” Yates said. “We plan to continue this commitment and hope to be a role model for others.”