The University of Toronto – represented by President Meric Gertler – was one of 47 universities that recently met in Paris to reach agreement on how post-secondary institutions can play a leadership role in addressing urgent global issues, from climate change to income inequality.
The group of universities, from 18 countries around the world, belong to the U7+ Alliance that was established by France as a way to dig deeper into the issues to be discussed by world leaders at the upcoming G7 summit in Biarritz.
At the alliance’s summit in Paris earlier this month, leaders from the U7+ universities committed to addressing collectively five pressing international issues: the role of universities in a global world; climate change and energy transition; inequality in societies; technological transformations; and community engagement and impact.
“The hope was that, by creating this group, there would be an action-oriented network that would leverage the resources of universities around the world to tackle some of the really big issues the planet is facing – and that presumably the G7 leaders are going to be losing sleep over,” said President Gertler, who led the summit’s discussion on climate change and sustainability, informed in part by U of T’s leadership in this area.
As a major outcome of the U7+ meeting, the group voted unanimously to adopt six principles:
- Stay closely linked to the annual G7 summit in order to continue to contribute to positive global change
- Train and nurture “responsible and active citizens who will contribute to society, from the local to the global level”
- Address environmental issues and challenges including sustainability and climate change
- Promote inclusion and opportunity while fostering “evidence-based public debate” to combat societal polarization
- Work to solve complex global issues through interdisciplinary research and learning
- Share best practices with each other and other institutions around the world