Inter-College Lecture Series – College of Basic and Applied Sciences

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 15:00
Centre for African Wetlands


Members of the University community and the general public are hereby invited to the next Inter-College Lecture to be delivered by Prof. Chris Gordon (Director,Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies)

Topic: ‘Charity begins at home’: The University and the Delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Date: Thursday, 12 April 2018

Time: 3: 00 pm

Venue: Centre for African Wetlands Auditorium

Chairman: Prof. Daniel K. Asiedu, Provost CBAS


All are cordially invited




This paper seeks to analyse the synergies, congruence and interlinkages between the actions and key performance indicators of the current University of Ghana Strategic Plan and the targets, actions and indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals. The purpose of this analysis is twofold, to establish how the University can mainstream the SDGs into its operations where there are gaps, but also to contribute to the global discourse on the SDGs from a ‘southern’ perspective in terms of approaches and relevance of the SDGs to an academic setting.

The University of Ghana has always been visionary in environmental thinking.  In 1990, the then Vice-Chancellor, Prof Akilakpa Sawyer was one of the original 22 signatories of the Talloires Declaration, a declaration for sustainability among like-minded Universities. In 2013, the University became part of the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES). The current strategic plan of the University (2014 -2024) is aimed towards the vision of “becoming a world-class research-intensive university” within the decade. The University Strategic Plan seeks to deliver the vision through nine strategic priorities. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Building on the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs have 17 pillars, 169 targets and 230 indicators and some more indicators are still being developed

Standard methods of rapid assessment of SDG mainstreaming, which involved a mapping approach that examined the alignment of the existing priorities of the University with the individual Goals and Targets of the SDGs, the alignment of University Academic Research units and the SDGs and an assessment of the SDGs being targeted by research units have been used. It is clear from the results that the University of Ghana is very much in tune with the SDGs and much of its research by graduate students contribute to the data and evidence needed for their achievement.  However, there are some areas where the University can contribute more.

Jeffery Sachs notes that ‘universities need to play a role as active solutions networks … helping society to find technical solutions to achieve these goals’. As a research university, The University can use SDG related criteria such as – impact, paradigm shift, sustainable development, needs of the recipient, ownership, efficiency and effectiveness as a key framework against which project proposals and research directions are assessed.  The University can also incorporate SDG case studies, learning material, examples and concepts into its courses and programmes, in such a way that teaching philosophies, learning outcomes and attitudes acquired can contribute to the next generation of policymakers and scholars leading to the ‘future we want’. This, in the long run, may be the most important contribution of the University to the Global Goals as it is attitudes and behaviours which control the use of technology and adoption of solutions. Finally, at the institutional and operational levels, the University can integrate SDGs consistently in new social and environmental policies, as well as review existing policies and operational guidelines to encompass the basic philosophy of the SDGs, which can be encapsulated in the phrase ‘leave no one behind’. 


Key Words: Strategic Planning; Sustainable Development Goals; Research: Education: Green Growth



Prof Gordon holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Zoology from the University of Ghana, Legon. He has a Doctorate degree in Human Environmental Sciences from King’s College, UK. He is the current Director of the Institute for Environmental and Sanitation Studies of the University of Ghana. His areas of research cover Ecotoxicology, Human Environment Interactions and Limnology.

He has a distinguished academic career spanning over thirty years at the University of Ghana in the fields of research, teaching as well as advisory and fund-raising contributions. He has successfully supervised over 70 MPhil and PhD students, - two of whom have won the Silver Medal of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences for the Best Post-graduate thesis in Ghana.  Prof Gordon has provided guidance and facilitated the development of various national policies and strategies that cover Water, Buffer Zones, Fisheries, Wetlands, Environment, Climate Change and more recently, inputs into the draft policies on Science Technology and Innovation, Biodiversity as well as Environmental Management of the Oil and Gas Sector.

Internationally, Prof Gordon has served as Invited Expert for project reviews and Think-Tank groups. These bodies include among others, FAO, National Research Foundation of South Africa, the UNEP Foresight Expert Group, the UNEP Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA) and Future Earth Africa Interim Scientific Committee, ICSU-ROA, IPCC, IPBES and START. He also served two terms each as Vice President of Wetlands International and Vice President of the International Society of Limnologists. Currently, he serves on the Board of Tersus-Ghana and of KITE.

Prof Gordon has received various honours and awards including the Parker-Gentry Award for Conservation Biology from the Field Museum, Chicago, the USA in 1997, and the Distinguished Award for Meritorious Service from the University of Ghana, Legon in 1999, and Environmentalist of the Year, by the Ministry of Environment and Science in 2003. In 2016, he was invested as Member, Order of the Volta for his contribution to science, education and development. He has over 100 publications made up of Books, Book Chapters, and Monographs, as well as peer-reviewed journal articles, technical reports and conference proceedings.