Partnerships for the Goals
Partnerships for the Goals

Relationships to support the goals
Relationships with government and cross-sectoral dialogue for SDG policy and advancement
Reports to THE Impact Ranking indicators 17.2.1 & 17.2.2
The involvement of education and research institutions with local and global governments is of utmost importance in a time when decision-makers need reliable, evidence-based data to inform policymaking. KAUST strives to bridge the gap between academia and government and has recently been part of one of the most high-profile stakeholder meetings, the G20 Summit.
Under the presidency of Saudi Arabia, KAUST's contribution to the 2020 G20 Summit focused on one of the three main G20 aims, namely Safeguarding the Planet.
By participating in the Energy Sustainability and Climate Stewardship working groups, KAUST aimed to establish a dialogue between stakeholders such as the G20 member countries and different international organizations, to complement negotiations and ministerial meetings.
Several KAUST faculty were involved in four of the seven priority areas for the Energy Sustainability and Climate Stewardship working groups: the Cleaner Energy Systems for a New Era, Managing Emissions - Implementing the Circular Carbon Economy, Adaptation - Contribution to Global Solutions and Holistic Approach to Sustainable Mobility.
Of note were the contributions that have come from KAUST professors Carlos Duarte (priority area lead of Adaptation - Contribution to Global Solutions), William Roberts (priority area co-lead of Cleaner Energy Systems for a New Era), Jorge Gascon (priority area co-lead of Managing Emissions - Implementing the Circular Carbon Economy), Mani Sarathy (priority area co-lead of Holistic Approach to Sustainable Mobility), Matthew McCabe, Mohamed Eddaoudi, and Mark Tester.
KAUST Distinguished Professor Carlos Duarte, giving a media briefing at the G20 Summit about “Securing a Future for the World’s Coral Reefs" (2020). Photo: Saudi Gazette

KAUST Associate Professor Mani Sarathy representing KAUST in the G20 summit, as a delegate of the Circular Carbon Economy Platform (2020)
Additionally, KAUST was also involved in the creation of the Coral Reef R&D Accelerator Platform (CORDAP). The Platform, for which KAUST will serve as Central Node, aims to contribute to enhancing the cooperation among the G20 members as well as non-member countries on coral reef conservation, protection and restoration, achieving the relevant goals and targets under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also supports the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), the UN Decade of Ocean Science (2021-2030), and the implementation of the United Nations Environment Assembly resolution 4/13 on sustainable coral reef management.
KAUST was also part of the Steering Committee of the Science 20 (S20) Summit, which gathered 19 national science academies and scientific institutions from the G20 countries, with the aim of presenting policymakers with consensus-based recommendations. As a result of the summit, 10 policy recommendations developed by 180 scientists and experts (including KAUST experts) were endorsed by all G20 academies of Science.
International collaborations on data gathering and best practices for the SDGs
Reports to THE Impact Ranking indicators 17.2.3 & 17.2.4
Gathering and sharing sustainability data across institutions is pivotal to optimize procedures, benchmark practices, and identify new areas in need of assessment. KAUST is part of international networks that routinely share information and strategies on tackling several action areas of the SDGs, both for research and operations.
KAUST's Sustainability Head participated at the AASHE Conference & Expo (2019)
One example is the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). AASHE is the leading association for the advancement of sustainability in higher education, serving a full range of higher education faculty, administrators, staff, and students who are change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. KAUST is an AASHE member since 2012, is registered in the STARS reporting tool, and is part of a network of over 900 members across 48 U.S. states, 1 U.S. Territory, 9 Canadian provinces, and 20 countries. AASHE organizes yearly conferences where members can share their work on sustainability practices and openly discuss strategies to make universities more sustainable.
KAUST is also a member of Sulitest , one of the featured initiatives of UN partnerships for the SDGs. Sulitest is a sustainability literacy tool that allows for the creation of customized surveys (incorporating modules created by other members) that assess the literacy of the users in terms of sustainable development. KAUST Sustainability is using the platform to create customized surveys to test sustainability literacy on campus and acquire data that can be shared in other networks such as AASHEE.
The university is also involved in collaborations and platforms that tackle specific SDGs. One example is the previously showcased Coral Reef R&D Accelerator Platform (CORDAP), which specifically tackles SDG 13 and SDG 14. As the Platform Central Node, KAUST will be responsible to host several research efforts and ensure that data gathered under the platform, which aims to inform policies for the conservation of marine life, is openly shared with the scientific and public community worldwide.
The SDGs were a strong component of the booths of several AASHE members at the AASHE Conference & Expo (2019)
Finally, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, KAUST was an active player in the fight against the virus, in order to prevent the hindering of achieving SDG 3. At the beginning of the pandemic, KAUST quickly mobilized a group of faculty to form the Rapid Research Response Team (R3T). The R3T's group of faculty established close contact with the Saudi Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) to coordinate efforts and ensure fast and reliable diagnostic tests both in the Kingdom and internationally.
Video explaining the COVID Compass platform, a collaboration between dozens of experts worldwide, that shares deconstructed and meaningful data about the pandemic to the public (2020)
KAUST also teamed up with a global task force and co-created The COVID Compass. The task force, consisting of experts in data science, location intelligence, code, economics, journalism, public policy, and media, is committed to quickly publishing relevant, relatable, and actionable data around the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID Compass applies advanced analytics to existing research to create models that unlock groundbreaking trends.
Collaborations with NGOs for the achievement of the SDGs
Reports to THE Impact Ranking indicator 17.2.5
KAUST possesses a vast network of stakeholders and collaborators that target and tackle key action areas of the SDGs. By engaging in collaborations with NGOs such as non-for-profit organizations, student-led groups, and industrial & research partners, the university aims to foster meaningful contributions towards the achievement of the SDGs.
Educational collaborations are a valuable tool to spread awareness on sustainable development. KAUST possesses a strong vision of innovation and routinely explores and shares educational opportunities to both on-campus and off-campus students to excel in the translation of their research and technology to innovative solutions that can serve society.
Final judging panel of the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition (2020)
One of those educational opportunities was the partnership MITEF to for the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition, which was hosted by KAUST in collaboration with NGO Community Jameel. The competition aimed at fostering innovation and creating quality education, mentorship, and sponsorship opportunities for young entrepreneurs (contributing towards SDG 4 and SDG 9).
Through KAUST Innovation bootcamp, the participants were given mentorship and pitching tips to sell their innovative technologies and ideas to investors, with the final goal to materialize them to the real world.
KAUST also offers opportunities for graduate students to volunteer with NGOs and in programs that tackle the SDGs. The Social Responsibility office, part of the Strategic National Advancement (SNA) department, routinely organizes activities where students and staff can volunteer and be part of social inclusion and knowledge sharing. One of such activities was the participation of students from local schools in an ongoing collaborative article collection created by KAUST researchers and the non-profit academic journal Frontiers for Young Minds. This resulted in the first participation of Saudi public schools with the journal, mentored by KAUST researchers. The collaboration raised awareness on SDG 13 and 14 given the marine and climate-related focus of the Collection and contributed towards better education of smaller communities, tackling SDG 4, SDG 5 and SDG 10.
Another opportunity for KAUST students to volunteer was during the Social Responsibility Science Summer Camp. The 2020 edition counted with the collaboration of several KAUST students that got involved with local elementary, intermediate, and high school students from Thuwal, KAUST's neighboring community. Through partnerships with social educational projects such as Amaleed and Medvation, several coding, machine learning, programming, and cyber-security activities were made with the young learners. The event actively contributed to the advancement of SDG 4, SDG 5, and SDG 10.
One of the Social Responsibility Science Summer Camp 2020 classes about machine learning, programming, and cyber-security in collaboration with Medvation and KAUST Ph.D. students (2020)
Two Students for Sustainability members at G20 workshop on Circular Carbon Economy, with cradle-to-cradle design father William McDonough (2020)
Finally, and to tackle overall sustainable development, the Students for Sustainability (S Square) group voluntarily organizes actions and establishes collaborations with local and global stakeholders. Supported by KAUST's Sustainability office, some of S Square 2020 victories were to be selected for Yale's Global University Climate Forum (GUCF), which involved bringing climate-related action to the KAUST campus diner. Moreover, the group was part of the G20 Summit, by attending the G20 workshop on Circular Carbon Economy.
Targeting collaborations through research programs, KAUST's Research Planning & Partnerships Office fosters any form of research partnership and collaboration with any entity looking to access the university's array of research expertise, lab facilities, and talent. Partnering with KAUST allows organizations to enhance and complement their own expertise to address global challenges. Projects can be at a formative stage, a conceptual stage, and also applied or proof of concept research. Current collaborations span over 12 research centers and involve 60 different partnerships.
Education for the SDGs
Academic education
Reports to THE Impact Ranking indicators 17.4.1 & 17.4.2
KAUST is committed to offering its students the necessary tools to address pressing global challenges. Being the founding pillars of KAUST water, food, energy and environment, the academic programs offer extensive lists of graduate courses aimed at aligning the knowledge of students with their respective fields, but also contextualizing it with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The courses address directly and indirectly the topic of sustainability and sustainable development and the different action areas of the SDGs. Some examples of relevant courses are:
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability (Environmental Science and Engineering Program) - Discusses general sustainability and the water-food-energy systems, anthropogenic action, and the topic of climate change. Addresses the action areas of SDG 2, SDG 6, SDG 7, SDG 8, SD9, SDG 11, SDG 12, SDG 13, SDG 14, and SDG 15;
  • Sustainable Engineering (Chemical Engineering Program) - Discusses sustainability through concepts and methods for determining the net environmental, economic, and social impacts of an engineering technology or process. Addresses the action areas of SDG 6, SDG 7, SDG 8, SDG 9, SDG 11, SDG 12, SDG 13, SDG 14, and SDG 15;
  • Marine Life (Marine Science Program)- Addresses the action areas of SDG 13 and SDG 14;
  • Water Desalination (Environmental Science and Engineering Program) - Addresses the action areas of SDG 6, SDG 7, SDG 9, SDG 11, and SDG 14;
  • Materials for Energy ( Material Science and Engineering Program) - Addresses the action areas of SDG 7 and SDG 9.
Global community education
Reports to THE Impact Ranking indicators 17.4.3
Having global communication channels is one of KAUST's strategies to disseminate knowledge on scientific discovery and awareness of pressing global issues. In 2020, KAUST routinely relied on two platforms to expose the public to contemporary discussions on the action areas of the SDGs: the open podcast Sciencetown, and the live and virtual public discussion forum Sci-Café, both produced from KAUST to the world.
Sciencetown town is an interview-style podcast that invites local and global experts in several scientific fields to talk about specific or general concepts and how they influence the world. Routinely targeting topics that follow the action areas of the SDG framework, this open, online platform has touched the contemporary subjects of Circular Economy (SDG 12) , the Covid-19 Pandemic (SDG 3, SDG 17), Low-carbon transportation (SDG 7, SDG 11, SDG 13), Deep-Sea Exploration (SDG 14), among several others.
Announcement of the Circular Economy Sciencetown episode (2020)
Announcement of the Renewable Energy Sci-Café (2020)
The Sci-Café, another KAUST outreach channel, is a live-streamed event that allows for interaction between the public and the invited panelists, both in presence and online. Being streamed on the Facebook page of KAUST (where viewers can submit their questions) and later hosted on its Youtube channel, the Sci-Café offers an interactive environment where action areas of the SDGs are openly discussed between researchers and the public.
The forum has addressed several topics such as Renewable Energy (SDG 7), Circular Carbon Economy (SDG 7, SDG 12, SDG 13, SDG 14, SDG 15), Autonomous Technology (SDG 3, SDG 7, SDG 9, SDG 10, SDG 11), Covid-19 pandemic (SDG 3, SDG 17).
Locally, KAUST has also been raising awareness for the SDGs in the academic and surrounding community. One example was the rebranding of the community buses to reflect the Sustainable Development Goals. As part of a Community Life organized competition, the designs of the Students for Sustainability group, which include all the SDGs, were chosen to be featured in the campus and community buses. The goal was to educate the public and draw attention to the SDG framework, sparking community discussion.
One of KAUST's buses featuring sustainability designs and the SDGs (2020)