Chatham at the UN: Pittsburgh and local universities advance Sustainable Development Goals (SDS)

On September 23, 2019, a forum during the 74th United Nations General Assembly featured Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and leaders from Chatham University, the Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, and The Pittsburgh Foundation. Speakers highlighted regional accomplishments to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a more peaceful, prosperous planet with just and inclusive societies.

The efforts were summarized during a “Spotlight on Pittsburgh” panel discussion to showcase the best of American leadership and innovation to achieve the SDGs. The goals were adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2015 after years of discussion and input from millions of people – especially young people – around the world. The SDGs include 17 global goals to realize “The Future We Want.”

Moderator Ashok Regmi, far left, of the International Youth Foundation leads a "Spotlight on Pittsburgh" panel discussion during a United Nations Foundation event featuring, from left, Lisa Schroeder, president of the Pittsburgh Foundation, James Garrett, provost of Carnegie Mellon University, Ann Cudd, provost and senior vice chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, and David Finegold, president of Chatham University.

Moderator Ashok Regmi, far left, of the International Youth Foundation leads a "Spotlight on Pittsburgh" panel discussion during a United Nations Foundation event featuring, from left, Lisa Schroeder, president of the Pittsburgh Foundation, James Garrett, provost of Carnegie Mellon University, Ann Cudd, provost and senior vice chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, and David Finegold, president of Chatham University.

In addition to Mayor Peduto, other participants included David Finegold, president of Chatham University; James H. Garrett, provost and chief academic officer of Carnegie Mellon University; Ann Cudd, provost and senior vice chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh; and Lisa Schroeder, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

“In the last five years, the City of Pittsburgh has established its first Office of Sustainability and Resilience, its Office of Equity and its Gender Equity Commission, all of which work with city departments to promote the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Peduto. “I know that by working with our university and foundation partners we will keep building momentum to make Pittsburgh a better city for all.”

Chatham University was an early pioneer in the university sustainability movement as one of the charter signatories of the Climate Leadership Network pledging to pursue carbon neutrality. Today, Chatham has committed to connecting the SDGs to curriculum, learning outcomes and programs across the university. In addition, Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus, a nearly 400-acre living-learning laboratory, demonstrates best practices in the SDGs around food, energy and water systems. 

“Chatham is proud to have reduced our emissions per person by over 60 percent in the last decade,” said Finegold. “And we will continue working with our partners across Pittsburgh to educate the next generation of leaders, such as Chatham alumna Rachel Carson, who will help further the SDGs for our community and the planet.”

Carnegie Mellon announced that it is committed to educating, empowering and aligning its community around the world to address the SDGs. The university also committed to creating a Voluntary University Review of work, parts of which are either already underway or being planned, to advance the SDGs.

 “We recognize that universities have invaluable roles to play in leading efforts to achieve the SDGs,” said Garrett. “We look forward to working with our university community to advance the SDGs. Carnegie Mellon’s meaningful partnerships with the City of Pittsburgh and other institutions within and outside the region will enhance the impact of this work even more.”

The University of Pittsburgh’s commitments include: the Millennium Fellowship, with 14 students selected for this United Nations Academic Impact/MCN program who will focus on SDG projects; two Community Engagement Centers established in partnership with residents and stakeholders in traditionally underserved Pittsburgh neighborhoods where the university has made long-term commitments of investment, infrastructure, programming and staffing; and the Pitt Success Program to expand access and affordability through a new financial aid program that has already dramatically increased the percentage of Pell students.

 “The University of Pittsburgh is proud to work together with city leadership and our neighboring universities to advance a common and powerful commitment to participate in active, effective and transformative efforts framed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals —all meant to benefit our students, our region, and the world,” said Cudd.

As a community philanthropy, The Pittsburgh Foundation has committed to ramping up its convening power to develop partnerships with stakeholders, including thousands of donors who reflect many of the SDGs in their personal giving. There is a sharp focus on the goal of ending poverty in all its forms. As part of that, the foundation will be a community leader in efforts to ensure that all residents are able to benefit from a strong economy. As a public charity with advocacy power, the foundation has committed to achieving systems changes in its social justice work that will address the goal to promote peace in communities and more responsive institutions.

 “We’re thrilled that community foundations such as ours, with their deep roots in the regions they serve and broad reach across interest groups, are being recognized as leaders in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals at the local level,” said Schroeder. “I believe the Pittsburgh experience of partnerships and collaboration across sectors will be a valuable guide as other cities move the development goals from ideals to reality.”   

 Together, these partners are setting an important tone to find innovative and collaborative ways to work toward a better future that aligns with the SDGs and improves the quality of life for those in the Pittsburgh region and beyond.

Chatham University