Laurier might be labelled as one of Ontario’s most sustainable campuses, but sustainability is not only about the environment. This week, we interviewed Thurka Subendran, Co-President of campus club Laurier for SDGs, about what their club does to promote sustainability on campus and beyond!
Club: Laurier for SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)
Year established: 2017
Club social media handles:
Answers provided by: Thurka Subendran, BA Political Science with Social Entrepreneurship & Community Engagement Options, 4th year, Co-President of Laurier for SDGs
Can you explain what Laurier for SDGs is and does, for anyone who hasn’t heard about it yet?
Laurier for SDGs is a student club that strives to advocate for the awareness and integration of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We accomplish this by hosting mental health and wellness events for students, attending and promoting global development conferences, boothing in the concourse to advocate for one or multiple goals and actively engaging with students on social media for social awareness campaigns. By doing this we are actively encouraging the next generation of future leaders to consider the positive impacts of working towards the SDGs. The SDGs are for anyone and everyone and we encourage those who are interested to get involved!
Can you tell us a little more about the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals? What is their purpose?
The 17 UN SDGs were established in 2015 as a universal call to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The goals consider development efforts with a balance in social, economic, and environmental sustainability. These ambitious targets come with the idea that creativity, technology and financial resources are needed from a range of partners in a manner that strives to achieve the following ‘zeros’: Zero descrimination against women and girls, poverty, hunger and AIDS.
What inspired you to join Laurier for SDGs?
I heard about the UN Sustainable Development Goals through a first-year business class. It totally changed my perspective on traditional entrepreneurship which is what sparked my interest in social entrepreneurship. I wanted to dedicate my studies and extracurricular efforts to learning about what the SDGs were and how myself as a university student could encourage other students to take small actions towards achieving the goals. I joined the SDG student association on campus as a team member in the year it was working towards becoming a SU club. Many of the students graduated at the end of the school year which is when I was hired as President to keep the club running.
What are some of Laurier for SDG’s greatest accomplishments?:
I think one of our greatest accomplishments is organizing a three-day mental health awareness event where we were able to get many Laurier students involved in learning more about the SDGs while taking small steps to ensure their mental health during the stressful end of semester period. This was based on the SDG Good Health and Well-being. I think another one of our accomplishments is exposing a greater number of students to the UN SDGs through multiple awareness events (such as our Pop-up Thrift Shop & Zero Waste Social Media Campaign) to further encourage them to take small actions in their daily lives to be more environmentally aware, based on the UN SDG Responsible Consumption and Production.
How can students get involved?
Students can get involved by following us on social media, attending awareness booths and larger events to learn more about the small actions they can take in efforts to achieving one or more of the SDGs.
What are some ways that students can be more sustainable when on a budget?
As a university student, eating out is inevitable as it is far more convenient during busy times throughout the semester. Being aware of your environmental footprint by replacing one-time use plastics and throw-away containers with reusable utentils and containers, as well as shopping in bulk can be far more financially sustainable to those on a budget.
Which Sustainable Development Goal resonates the most with you personally?
Goal #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions is a goal that resonates with me. Growing up as part of a minority diaspora in Canada I have come to realize the immense privilege I have with access to stable education, a government that practices good governance and upholds the rule of law and not having to constantly live in the midst of conflict and violence. I believe I can leverage my degree in Political Science as well as the opportunity in my capstone Social Entrepreneurship course to develop a venture to tackle ill governance and corruption in states with weak institutions that disregard the rule of law.
What other events does Laurier for SDGs have coming up this school year?
This year Laurier for SDGs has planned a Zero Waste Awareness week where we will take concrete actions to ensure a greater number of students take part in Zero Waste activities in an effort to promote climate action. Students can follow our social media pages to find up to date information about events and awareness campaigns.
If you could make it so that every Laurier student knew one thing about Laurier for SDGs, what would you want that one thing to be?
I would want every Laurier student to know that no matter what program you are in, you have the ability and responsibility to work towards ensuring that our planet is more prosperous in a social, economic and environmental manner for years to come. If every student becomes more aware of their individual impact, we can work together towards influencing larger impacts around us.