Youth in Saudi Arabia will gain increased knowledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and be able to chart a more sustainable path for their country after the UN System Staff College trained university professors in the five dimensions of sustainable development in mid-February in Riyadh.

Delivered by the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, the two-day training of trainers was attended by 18 professors from disciplines such as linguistics, physics, psychology and gender studies. The educators are all from Princess Norah University (PNU), which is the largest women’s university in the world, with over 52,000 students.

As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is going through rapid social, economic and cultural transformation, guided by the ambitious Saudi Vision 2030, this is an opportune time to engage with the youth of the country on the principles of sustainable development.

The Saudi Vision 2030 is a plan for national transformation that the government adopted in April 2016, soon after the 2030 Agenda came into effect. It shares the same timeline as the 2030 Agenda. The vision is inspired by the 2030 Agenda and looks to diversify the Saudi economy, bolster social services and ensure wider participation in society and the economy by women and youth.

While there are clear synergies between the Saudi Vision 2030 and the 2030 Agenda, the former is widely known and embraced by the majority of people in Saudi Arabia, whereas there is very limited knowledge in the country about the scope and ambition of the 2030 Agenda. There is, however, a strong demand to learn more about the 2030 Agenda and understand their country’s wider role in the community of nations.

The training was an important step to cater to this demand. It focused on explaining to the PNU faculty the dimensions of sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda, as well as the vital role businesses and women leaders will need to play if the objectives of the agenda are to be achieved. These themes resonated particularly well with the all-female audience as they are witnessing a seismic shift in women’s role in Saudi society as well as a new emphasis on private sector participation in the economy as Saudi Arabia weans itself from its dependence on oil exports.

The next step for the PNU faculty is to incorporate the lessons learned during the training into the curriculum of their respective disciplines, and educate and inspire a new generation of Saudis to chart a more sustainable path, appreciating the interconnected nature of the world we live in.

As one professor said after the training, “This was a good start to opening a dialogue on a topic that none of us can afford to ignore. We will do our best to ensure each and every student of PNU understands their role in making the world more sustainable.”

Training of Trainers workshop on the 2030 Agenda, organized by UNSSC at Princess Nourah University in Riyadh on 17-18 February 2020.