In 2015, Heads of State and Government and public figures at the 70th United Nations General Assembly session set new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They were a call to action to protect the planet and ensure the prosperity and well-being for all people. In response to the challenges facing the world today, UNESCO calls for observance of established rules that improve the life of people. St Petersburg University supports these ideas and aligns its research, academic and economic activities in compliance with the principles outlined in the 17 SDGs.

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1. No poverty

Despite the efforts of many countries to eradicate poverty, extreme poverty remains high in low-income countries even in the 21st century. St Petersburg University conducts research and implements policies seeking to reduce poverty and economic inequality. The Centre for Financial Literacy at the University holds many educational events every year, and all students and staff may apply for financial aid.

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2. Zero hunger

The UN World Food Programme works across the spectrum of SDGs seeking to end hunger and ensure universal access to safe and nutritious food by 2030. St Petersburg University implements various academic and research projects in this area, including those aimed at developing agriculture. Additionally, the University holds thematic events and educational projects, and healthy meals are available to students and staff.

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3. Good health and well-being

The shortage of healthcare workers and unequal distribution of the specialist workforce in the world hinder the achievement of the sustainable development goal in the field of health promotion. The World Health Organization calls upon the world community to concentrate efforts on solving challenges facing the health system. St Petersburg University implements flagship programmes in the field of medicine and healthcare. The Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies at St Petersburg University provides medical care to citizens utilising advances in science and technology to improve the quality of live. In addition, the University psychologists offer psychological assistance to everyone.

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4. Clean water and sanitation

Poorly thought-through economic policy, weak infrastructure, poor water quality and inadequate management of water resources cause problems associated with food insecurity in general and its effects on health. St Petersburg University does not stand aside. It manages its activities in compliance with the principles of sustainable management of water and sanitation. The University offers academic programmes focused on aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, the University chemists were engaged in the creation of new membrane materials for water purification, and the St Petersburg University Innovation Centre for Environmental and Industrial Technology demonstrated that industrial waste can be utilised to treat wastewater.

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5. Quality education

St Petersburg University is the oldest university in Russia, widely known for its academic traditions, and distinguished by its high-quality education and research. The University has been among the best in all leading world university rankings. St Petersburg University researchers are regularly ranked among the most highly cited researchers in the world. Over 400 academic programmes at undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate level, as well as over 800 additional educational programmes, are implemented at the University. More than 150 online courses designed by the University scholars are available to learners from all over the world.

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6. Gender equality

Equality is one of the most important human rights. It ensures peace and harmony for sustainable development. St Petersburg University regularly initiates and develops projects dedicated to combating discrimination, as well as promoting the idea of gender equality. The University offers a course in gender studies. Also, an English-taught master’s programme ‘Studies in European Societies’ includes a course ‘Critical aspects of gender inequality in globalising societies’.

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7. Affordable and clean energy

Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today because it is necessary to ensure sustainable economic growth. Currently, about three billion people worldwide rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. The UN urges nations to accelerate clean energy transition. St Petersburg University has taken the opportunity to contribute to these efforts. St Petersburg has designed an eco-friendly environment as part of its Green Campus concept. The University is developing the concept of alternative energy sources – researchers and students participate in ongoing research projects in key areas of clean energy technologies.

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8. Decent work and economic growth

The unemployment rate remains high in some regions and among young people. The key role of productive employment and decent working conditions in achieving sustainable economic development is highlighted by SDG 8. In this regard, the UN calls on governments to expand their efforts in providing assistance to increase income-generating employment opportunities for all people. St Petersburg University actively interacts with employers, conducts labour market research, and develops its own courses on human resources culture. The University students have the opportunity to undertake internships in large Russian and international companies. Besides, clinical training organised at St Petersburg University is regarded as being most effective in developing students’ practical skills. At present, St Petersburg University successfully runs: the Legal Clinic; the Psychological Clinic; the Social Clinic; the Sociological Clinic; the IT Clinic; the Social Translation Centre; and the Media Centre. The clinical education enables students to practice and master a whole set of skills vital for competitiveness and employability. Thus, the education at St Petersburg University is designed to provide relevant competencies and qualifications to meet specific needs that are readily obtainable and enable career progression.

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9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Economic growth and urbanisation reinforce the need for sustainable urban infrastructure development. Investments in industry, transport and technology develop the economy and social stability. They increase the effectiveness of action on climate change. Universities play an important role in dealing with climate-induced issues. For instance, every year, students and researchers from St Petersburg University develop innovative start-up projects aimed at increasing manufacturing industry productivity and the efficiency of the economy. Small innovative enterprises have been created and now operate at St Petersburg University. The University spin-offs aim for the practical application of their research results. The 26 resource centres are an integral part of the Research Park at St Petersburg University. They carry out research and implement innovative projects; they seek to realise the University’s intellectual and creative potential.

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10. Reduced inequalities

According to the UN report, existing inequalities within countries has deepened over the last few decades, as disparities in health and education continue to persist. As part of its policy of transparency and openness, St Petersburg University has been implementing a set of measures to reduce inequality, including several academic and research projects.

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11. Sustainable cities and communities

Rapid urban growth in many parts of the world has resulted in overcrowding, housing shortages and infrastructure degradation. In response to the challenges of urbanisation, the UN calls on states to expand their efforts to increase resource efficiency and reduce pollution. St Petersburg University contributes to these efforts by opening new academic programmes and conducting research. Among the priorities set by the University are urban development projects.

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12. Responsible consumption and production

In the 21st century, many countries have faced major environmental problems, such as air, water and soil pollution. The rapid growth of production and the traditional methods employed in raw materials processing contribute to the scarcity of natural resources. St Petersburg University offers a wide range of academic programmes in ecology, biodiversity and nature protection. In addition, the University is engaged in developing and implementing advanced environmental technologies and it aims to achieve the sustainable use of natural resources. Every year, dozens of tons of recyclable materials are collected at the University grounds and eco-activists hold community work days and educational environmental events.

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13. Climate action

Increased production, human population growth, and other anthropogenic factors negatively affect the environment. As a consequence, global warming is advancing at an alarming rate. In 2015, to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, the Paris Agreement was signed. Under this agreement, each country must take measures to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. St Petersburg University has designed and implements educational programmes and research projects in climate change. These range from studying the water reserve of clouds to the rate of ice melting in the Arctic and Antarctic.

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14. Life below water

The world’s oceans, seas, rivers and other water resources are key elements of the sustainable development of our planet. Climate change, marine pollution and ocean acidification have caused many of the problems associated with the depletion of biodiversity and the degradation of aquatic resources. St Petersburg University scientists and students make effort to counterbalance the effects of climate change by analysing the threats to marine biodiversity and aquatic ecosystems. In addition, the University offers academic programmes in aquatic ecosystems and implements measures to protect water sources.

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15. Life on land

Deforestation, desertification and biodiversity loss are global concerns. The UN calls for bolder action to preserve forests and biodiversity, and for the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. St Petersburg University offers academic programmes in ecology and implements research projects in land resources protection and restoration. The University is committed to protecting and enhancing the ecosystems and green spaces the University owns. Thus, the forthcoming reconstruction of the St Petersburg University Botanical Garden will enable a broad scope of issues to be solved: biodiversity preservation; suitability for research and educational purposes; and accessibility for all people.

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16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

Crime, corruption and injustice hinder the creation of peaceful and inclusive societies. St Petersburg University aims to manage its activities in compliance with the principles of fairness, openness and academic freedom. The University has created a system of effective, responsive and accountable mechanisms that ensure full transparency in the organisation. It also shares its experience with colleagues from other universities, as well as with authorities. Thus, anti-corruption educational events held at the University are attended by dozens of representatives of third-party organisations every year. Also, the University Legal Clinic provides free legal support services to all. To date, over 22 thousand people have received legal assistance at the clinic.

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17. Partnerships for the goals

The SDGs can only be realised with strong cooperation at all levels – between government, civil society, and the private sector. Partnership and joint action enable solving many global problems. St Petersburg University is a platform for international cooperation, sharing of experiences, discussing topical issues, and forging ties at the global and regional levels. Leading scientists, politicians and cultural figures visit St Petersburg University every year. Dozens of meetings with international partners are held at the University. Students and researchers participate in academic mobility programmes; while expert and business community representatives are actively involved in the education process. This is through: curriculum development by contributing to councils of academic programmes; and participation in the State Examination Committee and in the teaching methods and research committees.

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