Uniting higher education, governments, industry and society for a sustainable future
Pre-congress day: 29 May 2023
Congress: 30 May – 1 June 2023
Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
Taking place for the first time in the Middle East at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the Global Sustainable Development Congress brings together 1,000+ global thought leaders and innovators to discuss urgent solutions to the sustainability emergency.
Challenging the usual thinking on what higher education, with the support of governments, businesses and society, must do to help society meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the congress is a call to action for global universities to pivot their educational, research, innovation and outreach programmes towards tangible outcomes.
Delegates from around the world will immerse themselves in sessions aligned with the societal transformations needed to achieve the SDGs.
Be inspired by powerful case studies and actionable insights from thought-provoking panels and collaborative workshops. Forge new alliances in bespoke networking events and discover what is needed to scale up solutions for real impact.
Join us and engage first-hand in urgent conversations as we work together towards a more sustainable future.
The congress also features the live reveal of the THE Impact Rankings 2023. Attend engagement workshops and data masterclasses to improve your university’s ranking in specific SDGs. Explore the THE Impact Rankings 2022 to see who is leading the fight for sustainable change in higher education.
The Global Sustainable Development Congress is designed to inspire strategic change for universities committed to supporting the SDGs and to offer practical, tangible plans for transformation. It adds human context to the data, allowing delegates to work creatively together to formulate action points and build partnerships.
– Duncan Ross, chief data officer, THE
Sustainable health and demography
Healthy and productive communities that build and support sustainable ecosystems require inclusive approaches to community and healthcare structures. Faced with global pandemics, volatile geopolitical landscapes and the disruptive powers of technology, many public health ecosystems and networks are inefficient, inadequate and unequal.
Explore what higher education, with the help of businesses and society, can do to support governments in the fundamental transformations required.
Sustainable energy and industry
A sustainable future requires secure universal access to modern energy sources, rapid decarbonisation of the global energy system and continued reductions in the industrial pollution of soil, water and air. Achieving this requires collaboration and global thinking, and the equitable distribution of the latest technologies and innovations at a large scale.
Explore the role higher education plays in driving research and innovation, and what businesses, governments and society can do to change global consumption habits to speed up this transformation.
Fragile and precious natural ecosystems and resources are under the constant threat of degradation from overpopulation and urbanisation. Urgent solutions are needed to sustain what we have left whilst rebuilding and replenishing the vital resources that have already been lost.
Explore how cutting-edge research and innovation are driving these solutions, and how businesses and governments can help ensure a sustainable environment and improve biodiversity.
Sustainable cities and communities
Cities and urban areas are home to about 55 per cent of humanity and 70 per cent of global economic output. By 2050, these are forecast to increase to 70 and 85 per cent, respectively. Most cities are far from meeting the triple objective of being economically productive, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Urbanisation puts huge strains on the resources around cities that are essential for humanity’s survival.
Challenge conventional thinking around what higher education can do with the support of governments, businesses and society to achieve sustainability.
There is a broad consensus that a global human and ecological catastrophe could precipitate in just handful of years, critically exacerbating sustainability challenges. Our world is in a state of crisis that imperils all of humanity, and universities throughout the world must act. We must cease to be exemplars of unsustainable practices and become the transformative enablers of sustainability for others.
– Dr Tony Chan, president, KAUST
THE is collaborating with KAUST's Sustainability Office and other stakeholders to alleviate the carbon equivalent generated by the travel of delegates and speakers by planting mangroves.
Also known as ‘blue carbon’, mangroves typically sequester carbon two to four times faster than mature tropical forests and contain the highest carbon density of all terrestrial ecosystems.
Each mangrove tree planted removes over 308kg of CO2 from the atmosphere over the growth life of the tree.
What to expect
hours of content
Keynotes and panels
Sessions detailing innovations across inequality, health and education, climate change, food security and sustainable economic growth.
An interactive showcase of the latest innovations, tools and practical approaches to meeting the SDGs.
Fringe events, roundtables and masterclasses
A comprehensive range of unique networking events bringing together innovators from key sectors to discuss and workshop solutions.
Forge strategic partnerships and learn how THE’s data, insights and expert consultants can help you deliver on the SDGs. Our data experts will demonstrate how our products can enhance your own sustainability initiatives through 1:1 demos and consultancy sessions.
We are delighted to be taking the event to Saudi Arabia, a vital strategic force in the delivery of the goals. It is particularly exciting to be hosting the event on KAUST’s campus on the Red Sea where we will be able to see for ourselves the outstanding research being done there on protecting our oceans and supporting arid land farming.
– Phil Baty, chief global affairs officer, THE
The event will be in English with simultaneous translation into Arabic for those who require it.
25% discount for groups of 3+ delegates, use the promo code GROUP to apply the discount.
Please note that not all sessions will be available virtually. View the sessions that will be available virtually.
Bursaries are available for university delegates from emerging countries. Find out more and apply for a bursary.