Localisation of SDGs in Higher Education: Unisa’s whole institution, all goals and entire sector approach

  • Godwell Nhamo University of South Africa, South Africa


This paper documents the processes leading to the hosting of the University of South Africa (Unisa) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Localisation Indaba1 in November 2019. Of interest is how the programming, which started as a purely inreach community engagement project, ultimately embraced the whole institution, all SDGs and the South African higher education sector. Data was generated via two platforms, namely participatory action research and a survey evaluating the Indaba. The following cycles emerged: the development of a Unisa Management Policy Brief calling for the SDGs Localisation Indaba in 2017 (Cycle 1); the development of an SDGs for Society Research Stream as part of the Unisa Annual Interdisciplinary Academy and Summer School in 2018 (Cycle 2); and the SDGs Localisation Indaba in 2019 (Cycle 3). The Indaba led to the SDGs Localisation Declaration which resulted in the formation of the SDGs Liaison Committee. Several agreements were made to expand SDGs localisation at Unisa. Finally, the Indaba attracted many participants from outside Unisa, especially from other institutions of higher education. However, it took almost three years to realise the SDGs localisation dream at Unisa. The key recommendation is thus that those championing SDGs localisation should be prepared to continue moving forward despite delays due to management changes and processes.

Keywords: Higher education, sustainable development goals, domestication, localisation of the SDGs Introduction


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2411-5959
print ISSN: 1810-0333