IAU HESD Vision & Action

IAU HESD Timeline

IAU Vision

The future well-being of humanity and the planet will only be possible through the resolution of environmental, social, economic, and cultural challenges in a sustainable way. All actors, individual, private and institutional, are presented with the same tasks. The International Association of Universities is an international non-governmental organization and an official partner of UNESCO (Associate Status) that recognizes the key role higher education (HE) plays in the overall process of achieving sustainable development. Currently, IAU gathers 600 Members (Institutions, Organisations, Affiliates and Associates) from over 120 countries (October 2023).

For over three decades, the Association takes part in international and regional initiatives and holds events to promote the integration of sustainable development (SD) into higher education policies, strategies and work.  

IAU HESD strategy 2022-2026

Download our flyer 'IAU for HESD' .

IAU’s Strategic Plan and related actions in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provide a framework for university leaders to develop inter-institutional collaboration in pursuit of sustainable development. The aim is to help HEIs leaders, from our Members and Partners, embed sustainable development concepts and principles in strategic planning, academic and organizational work.

Our objectives for 2022-2026 are the following :

  • Strengthen IAU’s work in support of the 2030 Agenda and related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Develop and share expertise on the SDGs.
  • Work towards the increasing implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in higher education globally.
  • Enhance IAU Members’ involvement in HESD.
  • Create regional and international initiatives among universities committed to Sustainable Development and to share these achievements with others wishing to engage in social, environmental and ethical responsibility.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer learning using the IAU global network of HE leaders.
  • Foster ‘Whole Institutional Approaches' at the Leadership level in order to mainstream the priority of Sustainable Development in all areas (management, administration, teaching and research, campus operations) and to involve all stakeholders (student, technical and administrative staff, teachers, researchers, managers) in Environmental, Ethical, Social and Economical Responsibility.
  • Monitor trends and issues related to HESD.
  • Provide leadership training, capacity building and networking services.
  • Map and analyze assessment tools related to HESD.

IAU will pursue its ABC strategy through:

  • Advising & advocating
  • Building synergies & networking
  • Communicating & convening

IAU Publications

Please go here to see an overview of IAU Publications addressing HESD and SDGs.


IAU HESD Cluster

Launched in 2018, the IAU Cluster on HESD promotes the role of higher education institutions in building more sustainable societies. It is a consortium of IAU Member universities from all parts of the world, working in collaboration to develop existing and new exciting initiatives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all United Nations Member States in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Cluster encourages a holistic approach to the SDGs, promoting the whole institution approach, where institutions aim to embed sustainable development in their strategic planning, academic and organizational work.

IAU Actions

The above timeline highlights important dates related to HESD as well as the IAU main contributions to the UN-DESD (The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, since 1993 and more recently to UNESCO's ESD for 2030 Roadmap.

To know more about IAU's actions, please consult IAU's profile

* IAU pursues a 8-year Strategic Plan. The current Strategic Plan was adopted during the 16th IAU General Conference in October 2022. It deepens IAU’s focus on four key higher education challenges, namely Leadership, Internationalization, Sustainable Development, Digital Transformation, while improving support and services to Members as well as enhancing their visibility and engagement.

IAU's Working Group on Sustainable Development

The working group, composed of IAU Administrative Board members, provides advice on the strategic direction in HESD, provides feedback and suggestions where needed. IAU Working Group members represent IAU at events and sit on advisory committees. 

Members IAU Working Group on HESD 2022-2026

Chair of the IAU HESD Working Group and IAU Vice President

  • Jouhaina Gherib, President, University of Manouba, Tunisia


  • Salim Daccache, Rector, Saint Joseph University of Beirut, Lebanon
  • Yoshiaki Terumichi, President, Sophia University, Japan
  • Pam Fredman, IAU Immediate Past President and former Rector, Goteborg University, Sweden
  • Nomeda Gudelienė, Advisor to Deputy Rector on Sustainable Development, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

IAU Secretariat

  • Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General, International Association of Universities
  • Isabel Toman, Programme Officer, International Association of Universities