UNC's Water Institute number 1 on the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings on SDG6

I was so pleased to see that UNC and the work of the Water Institute were recognized by The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.

You can explore all the SDGs and which university is leading the work in which country.

As some of you know it is where I am based as an Adjunct Professor at the Water Institute where we have organized the 2014 and  2018 Nexus Conferences.

This ranking been made possible by the work of Jamir Bartram the former head of WI and now his successor the amazing Aaron Salzberg former U.S. Department of State lead advisor on international water issues and the first Special Coordinator for Water in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We use carefully calibrated indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach and stewardship.

This table on SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation measures universities’ research related to water, their water usage and their commitment to ensuring good water management in the wider community.

The list includes 330 universities from 63 countries.

View the Impact Rankings 2020 by SDG: clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) methodology

The list is led by the US’ University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, while China’s Tongji University and Australia’s Western Sydney University complete the top three.

Japan is the most-represented nation in the table with 37 institutions, followed by India with 19 and the UK with 18.

The goal of the Water Institute at UNC is to create a more water-secure world through research, policy, and practice. From our perspective, action without evidence is wasting money; evidence without action is wasting time. To reach the SDG targets we can afford neither. Our job is to provide evidence, the tools, and the next generation of leaders to change the way the world works on water.

To do this, we take an interdisciplinary and partnership-driven approach towards identifying and solving the world’s most pressing water and sanitation challenges. We work through a four-step process:

Demonstrating salience. “Why” is the problem relevant. I.e., what is the impact on human health, economic growth, and/or peace and security and how do these compare to other risks.
Identifying solutions. “What” can we do to address the problem. Developing solutions that are effective, efficient, and scalable.

Promoting effective implementation. It’s not just the “why” and the “what”, but the “how” – how do we implement the solutions we’ve identified where the problems exist. Not in the laboratory but in the field. How do we monitor, evaluate, and reflect to ensure the solutions we’ve identified deliver the intended results.

Scaling up through advocacy and policy reform. Getting others at the local, national and international level to adopt policies that protect public health, promote sound water management, and prevent potential conflicts over water.

The core staff of the Water Institute includes senior-level policymakers and scientists with a proven record of excellence. Institute staff have advocated strongly for national and global policy reforms through the UN system and other international bodies. As an official WHO Collaborating Center, the Water Institute has worked closely to develop standards and guidelines across a range of issues related to drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. Staff have also worked closely with the WMO, UNEP, UNESCO, the UNECE, and the African Minister’s Council on Water. Across the UNC campus, we have more than 30 faculty and well over 100 researchers dedicated to water and sanitation issues.

The Water Institute is a leader in the WaSH community. The Institute hosts the largest annual international conference on water – the “Water and Health Conference: Research, Policy and Practice.” In 2019, this conference attracted over 600 water, sanitation and hygiene sector participants from more than 50 countries; participants included national level policymakers, multilateral organizations such as WHO, implementing partners, and researchers. The Conference not only informs our research but is a platform for building international consensus around emerging ideas and approaches and for shaping the efforts of the sector.

Management Capacity: With over $2 billion administered annually in grants and contracts, UNC has organizational experience, accounting, operational controls, and technical expertise to carry out complex projects in multiple countries. In addition to the Water Institute’s own administrative personnel, we benefit from the thorough financial, administrative, and management systems of UNC. With their support, the Water Institute has managed more than 100 projects and grants funded by more than 46 donors for a total value exceeding $15 million, each ranging from $15,000 to $2 million.

Clean water and sanitation


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