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In partnership with the Civil Society Unit and the Academic Impact Initiative of the United Nations Department of Global Communications


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The Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The 17 Goals were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the Goals.

With just under ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), world leaders at the SDG Summit in September 2019 called for a Decade of Action and delivery for sustainable development, and pledged to mobilize financing, enhance national implementation and strengthen institutions to achieve the Goals by the target date of 2030, leaving no one behind.

The UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a decade of action on three levels: global action to secure greater leadership, more resources and smarter solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals; local action embedding the needed transitions in the policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks of governments, cities and local authorities; and people action, including by youth, civil society, the media, the private sector, unions, academia and other stakeholders, to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.


Overview & Purpose:

The 1st International Academic Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals - "Why it Matters", As Part of the Decade of Action will be held 5-7 October, 2022 in the city of Orem, Utah, USA. This academic conference will take place as the Decade of Action continues the countdown towards 2030, and the global community, including academic institutions, civil society organizations, private sector entities, local and national governments, as well as media outlets, explore ways through which the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals become an intrinsic part of their efforts. In this context, academic institutions have a crucial role to play as the next ten years will determine the success of the initiatives that aim at ending poverty, protect the planet, and ensure human rights and prosperous and fulfilling lives for all by 2030. This year, 2022, is a globally unprecedented opportunity to spark these transformational changes, following the COVID-19 pandemic that has highlighted the importance of multilateralism and global engagement to address common threats and challenges. Academic institutions are uniquely qualified to bring to the table discussions and approaches that can be incorporated into the action plans in other social sectors.

Co-sponsored by the United Nations Department of Global Communications through the Academic Impact Initiative and the Civil Society Unit, the conference is an important opportunity to mobilize academic experts and civil society advocates to study the mechanisms of implementation and success of the Sustainable Development Goals. Conference participants will gather in Utah to be part of a global conversation that will define an inclusive and culturally appropriate international and regional messaging, academic approaches and advocacy strategies, partnerships and governmental accountability frameworks including financing for development. By focusing on education and approaching academically the subject of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the "Why it Matters" Conference aims to build on the importance of academia and education as the bedrock of sustainable development and global engagement. The 1st International Academic Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals - "Why it Matters" As Part of the Decade of Action is the first forum of its kind and will bring to Utah a global conversation so necessary in this often divided world.

The purpose of this conference, rooted in the necessity to academically address the Sustainable Development Goals in particular and the 2030 Agenda, is to harness strategies, expertise and resources across the widest spectrum of academic thought to unleash a range of education initiatives that ensure inclusive, safe, and equitable quality sustainable development that may serve as a blueprint for higher education institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), private sector corporations, and governmental entities to successfully incorporate the 2030Agenda and the SDGs into their work programs.


Conference Outcome: Attendees at the conference will work, discuss and inspire other academic institutions globally, CSOs, networks and educators, as well as policy makers, businesses and youth, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals keeping in mind the spirit of the Agenda of leaving no one behind. The works presented will be published in digital format and widely shared through the official conference website and social media platforms, to serve as a guidance for individuals and institutions alike to inspire their programs and initiatives. 


Host: The host and organizer of the conference is the Utah Valley University (UVU) Office for Global Engagement in partnership with the Academic Impact Initiative and the Civil Society Unit of the United Nations Department of Global Communications, as well as De Montfort University. The Conference Executive Board shall make every effort to ensure that perspectives from diverse academic communities; north/south; gender; youth; older persons; indigenous peoples; faith-based organizations; persons with disabilities; LGBTQI persons; global geographic areas; thematic/expert constituencies; and international networks (including the sustainable development and climate change constituencies) are represented.


Venue: The conference will be held on the Orem campus of Utah Valley University in Utah, USA. UVU is the largest public university in Utah, and it was a key partner in bringing to Salt Lake City, Utah the first United Nations Civil Society Conference ever in history to take place in the United States of America outside of UN Headquarters in New York.


Program and Format: In addition to physical attendance, taking into consideration the realities for different communities, and hoping to be as inclusive as possible for interested individuals from around the world, the conference will follow a hybrid format with virtual participation through various platforms and social media outlets. The Conference Executive Board will be responsible for developing all elements of the program, which shall include opening and closing plenary sessions, thematic sessions, special sessions, posters, conference proceedings, exhibits and side events to engage attendees. Academic institutions at large will be invited to participate at the conference and offer their support in organizing the conference, and to propose side events and other initiatives inspired by the spirit of this concept note, to enrich the conference program and inform the action agenda.


Conclusion: The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, and particularly the Decade of Action, provide a comprehensive global action plan for the years 2021 to 2030.  These intensely negotiated agreements offer the academic community a clear and unique development framework that invites everyone at all levels of society to work to transform our world and create a more equal and sustainable society for everyone. This "Why It Matters" Conference will provide an inclusive space focused on academic approaches to global challenges in an era where the world is in dire need of leadership and guidance to address global and local challenges with local and global solutions, bringing people together along the way.  It is hoped that this conference will create the foundation for future academic gatherings during this Decade of Action in order to discuss current research and future vision in fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda.


September 2020

(revised April 2021)

(2nd revision July 2022)


From the official UN website on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development