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After attending a science conference at the United Nations, a group of Cal Poly engineering students says it now has the tools needed to discuss the university’s role in sustainable development.

Last May, a team of nine Cal Poly students, from the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and the Critical Global Engagement club (CGE), went to New York to participate in the fourth annual UN Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals Forum. The forum provides a platform for a network of stakeholders to discuss how science, technology and innovation can facilitate and impact the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable development is commonly defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs.

The forum offered diverse perspectives that will allow the students to explore different approaches to challenges, said Taylor Klein, a mechanical engineering student, who is involved with both EWB Cal Poly and CGE.

“It revealed the necessity of cross-disciplinary collaboration and collective action across stakeholder groups for the implementation of science, technology and innovation,” she said. “As a multi-stakeholder forum, it provided an avenue for civil society, particularly young people, to engage in global science policy.”

The Cal Poly students participated as part of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY). Speaking on behalf of the group, students made statements at the main sessions of the forum on topics such as climate action and resilience and the importance of indigenous local knowledge, Klein said.

EWB Cal Poly and CGE students also planned, proposed, and facilitated a panel and discussion titled, “Diverse Approaches to Climate Action and Resilience.”

“The forum gives EWB and Critical Global Engagement Club members a broader understanding of the role that we play in sustainable development,” Klein said. “Participating in the forum has given us the tools to bring these discussions back to Cal Poly and start a conversation about our role in sustainable development.”


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