I. Greetings and Welcome from York University and Strategic Partners

Picture of the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence


23rd September 2021

At York University, our mission is to provide a broad demographic of students with access to a high-quality, research-intensive university committed to the public good. Our community approaches sustainability through a holistic lens of curriculum, research, innovation, and knowledge mobilization, underscored by our desire to build a safer and more sustainable and inclusive future.

At York, sustainability is one of the foundations of our University Academic Plan 2020–2025: Building a Better Future, and it is embedded within all six of our priorities for action as part of our commitment to strengthening our impact on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Together, the University Academic Plan and our Sustainability Strategy serve to highlight our collaborative approach with cross-sector partners to addressing complex global issues that have far-reaching effects — from climate change, to poverty, to inequities in education and public health, to decolonization and reconciliation with our Indigenous communities.

Many initiatives being undertaken at York continue to enhance sustainability in both local and international communities. Through our new CIFAL centre, CIFAL York, we are bringing leaders from not-for-profits, industry, and all levels of government together with researchers and educators to address central issues in the areas of sustainable development, disaster and emergency management, diversity and inclusion, economic development, global health, and entrepreneurship. Our partnership with two universities in Kenya has made access to higher education in refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya possible through the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees Project. And, through the innovative use of our campus operations, grounds, and buildings as “living labs” — including the groundbreaking Las Nubes Project at our EcoCampus in Costa Rica — we are providing our students with valuable experiential learning opportunities related to ecology, sustainability, indigenous education, arts, health, and conservation.

Higher education has long been a force for cross-national and cross-cultural exchange, but as a result of factors including geopolitical tensions, economic strains, climate change concerns, and systematic racism, access to mobility programs and international networks has not always been equitable. The Sustainable and Inclusive Internationalization Virtual Conference is one of the many ways that York is responding to the wider call for higher education institutions to take up the UN SDGsserving as an accessible platform for scholars, international mobility professionals and practitioners, policymakers, sustainability experts, and interested stakeholders to address vital questions around the themes of sustainability, inclusivity, and innovation in international higher education.

We know that our success in affecting the kind of systemic changes necessary to build inclusive, equitable, and ethical global engagement relies on our ability to enhance multi-sector collaborations and internationalization strategies. And so I am profoundly grateful for your interest and enthusiasm in supporting our efforts, and look forward to continuing to work together with all of this year’s participants to address the complex issues identified in the SDGs, and to right the future.


Rhonda Lenton

President & Vice-Chancellor

York University

Recording of Opening Ceremony Day 1

Greetings from conference partners

As strategic partners of the Sustainable on the Go, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the International Association of Universities, and Okayama University Japan kindly invite you to read and further share this publication and to become an individual or institutional signatory to the Toronto Declaration on the Future of Responsible and Inclusive Internationalization of Higher Education.

Thanks to the development and distribution of vaccines (although highly unequal in the world) and the implementation of health measures, there is hope that the most acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be over, and the world will move to a post-pandemic era. How will higher education look like in this new era? Will universities be able to move towards a new balance of in-person and virtual teaching/learning and benefit from an enhanced level of digitization? Will higher education institutions appropriately educate young people, the future leaders of the world, in inclusive behaviors through education and research, enabling them to be responsible and active members in their local and global communities? Will higher education be able to provide learning and research opportunities towards a better understanding of this, yet unknown, post-pandemic world that will include virtual and in-person mobility yet doing so with a focus on sustainability? Will higher education be able to provide meaningful opportunities yet address the challenges associated with climate change and other related sustainability challenges impacting the world today?   

While sustainability has become a major societal concern at all levels, it is not yet quite clear how to balance environmental, economic, and societal concerns. Higher education and research are fundamental to help the world understand how one can strive to being a global citizen, thriving economically, creating a considerable social handprint, and still keeping a small ecological footprint. Universities do support such new and much needed dialogue in all their operations: teaching and learning, research, campus life and community service.   

In bringing different voices to the table, the Sustainable on the Go provided significant contributions to the debate and identified ways forward.

We invite you to read these conference proceedings and welcome you to join the Sustainable on the Go conversation.

Roda Muse, Secretary-General of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO

Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary-General of the International Association of Universities

Hirofumi Makino, President of Okayama University Japan