On September 14, 2023, I was granted the singular honor of being invested as President of the University of the Philippines. At a meeting with our vice presidents, chancellors, executive directors, and strategic advisers—as we began charting the course of our administration for the next six years—we made the significant decision to add one word to UP’s long-standing motto of “Honor and Excellence.”
That word was “Service.”
It is a simple yet deeply meaningful reminder of UP’s true calling and guiding principle: service to our people and to humanity as a whole. Service is a sacred vow, one made by each member of the UP community the moment we step into the University’s hallowed halls. We each learn to fulfill our responsibility as Iskolar ng Bayan with faithfulness, courage, and compassion.
In the 21st century, in a world that is becoming increasingly turbulent and difficult to navigate, the call for UP to serve has expanded well beyond the nation’s geopolitical borders. UP is called on to be a regional and global player. To paraphrase Konstantin Stanislavski, we cannot be small actors attempting to play small roles anymore. And I am proud to see that, as evidenced by the case studies presented in this UP Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Report for 2021-2022, UP is doing precisely that.
Our academic units, our research institutions, our students, alumni and community organizations continue to develop, implement, maintain and strengthen research programs and initiatives targeted at solving the most pressing challenges of our time. Our lofty aims include: climate change adaptation and disaster resilience; hunger alleviation and poverty reduction; expanding access to quality education and healthcare; building sustainable cities and communities; conserving biodiversity and the environment; and creating a society anchored on peace, security, justice, equality, and the protection of human rights for all.
These goals cannot be accomplished without facilitating partnerships with other higher education institutions, local governments, and civil society, and require a holistic, grassroots approach to ensure genuine inclusiveness and community- and country-level ownership of all implemented projects and achieved outcomes. I commend every one of the units and individuals mentioned in this report for the innovation and dedication necessary to achieve this breadth of vision. Your efforts affect lives for the better, and ensure that UP and the Philippines are a positive force for change in the world.
I would also like to thank the UP System Committee on University Rankings, the administrators and advisers and research and creative staff who made this UP SDG Report for 2021-2022 possible. Thank you for continuing to build upon UP’s database of SDG-related programs and projects, thus enabling us to monitor, understand, and improve the University’s contributions to our country’s success in meeting our targets under the UN SDGs.
My administration is committed to supporting and magnifying these efforts. I affirm the UP System’s strong commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which serve as a global blueprint for addressing the most pressing challenges of our time. Our administration’s commitment to achieving the SDGs, however, goes beyond mere words; it is a firm pledge to take meaningful action. In this period of global crisis, we recognize the historical urgency of the SDGs, and thus are working to integrate them into the very fabric of our University.
The core of our commitment lies in the field of education. Access to quality education is a cornerstone of sustainable development and a prerequisite for achieving all other SDGs. In UP, we firmly believe that our academic programs should reflect this commitment. It is not just about including SDGs in specific courses; it is about making the values and knowledge latent in the accomplishment of these goals an integral part of our curriculum. In every course offered by the university, we will ensure that the principles of sustainability are embedded deeply within our educational framework.
But education is only our starting point. Research and development are also vital aspects of the SDGs, and universities like UP play a central role in advancing these goals. UP’s researchers are at the forefront of addressing the complex challenges posed by the SDGs, and our administration pledges to enable them to continue conducting action-oriented research that not only helps us better understand the costs and implications of implementing the SDGs at the local and national level, but also provides innovative solutions to real-world problems at the regional and global levels.
Furthermore, universities serve as repositories of knowledge, fulcrums of cooperation, and drivers of innovation within their countries, regions, and in the global community. Recognizing the necessity of acting collectively with other stakeholders, UP is vigorously engaging with other state universities, governments, the private sector, and civil society to promote and implement the SDGs. By working together, we will provide a supportive environment and create a broad network of resources that will enable our students, researchers, and academics to actively participate in projects that contribute to building the knowledge and tools needed to achieve the SDGs.
The tenets of sustainable development align with our mandate as the national university. We have a long and distinguished history of producing leaders, innovators, and changemakers in various fields. We have always recognized our duty to serve the people and contribute to progress and development in our country. Now, we are extending that same sense of service and commitment to the global community.
Mabuhay tayong lahat!
More on UP and the SDGs
UP and the Sustainable Development Goals
Green UP: A UP System Action Plan for Environmental Sustainability
UP at a Glance
UP on Good Health and Well-Being
UP on Quality Education
UP on Gender Equality
UP on Sustainable Cities and Communities
UP on Climate Action
UP on Partnerships to Achieve the Goals