Carnegie Mellon University

An Initiative at a Global Scale

Countries and cities around the world use the Global Goals to identify challenges they face and engage in action to make our world more sustainable for all.

Countries communicate about the Global Goals (also known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs) primarily through a Voluntary National Review (VNR). Each year in July, all countries are invited to present their VNR at the United Nations (UN) in New York City to highlight progress in achieving the Global Goals.

Progress toward the Global Goals is only possible if everyone participates. Local entities play a critical role. Communities, together, move each goal forward. The UN is a convener, not an implementer —and real action happens at the local level.

In 2018, New York City became the first city in the world to voluntarily report on its progress on the Global Goals, highlighting the critical role that sub-national entities play in achieving the agenda. Alexandra Hiniker, now CMU’s Director of the Sustainability Initiative, conceived of and designed what she termed a Voluntary Local Review (VLR) for New York City — and oversaw the process for the city. The impact was profound. Today, cities and localities as diverse as Hawaii and Helsinki, Buenos Aires and Pittsburgh, Accra and Los Angeles have committed to conducting their own VLRs.

Leadership for Progress. A Model for Others.

And two years later, CMU conducted the 2020 Voluntary University Review (VUR), the first in the world, sending a strong signal that universities are also a critical partner in achieving the 17 ambitious goals by 2030.

As a university, our intention is for the VUR to be a framework for us to track activity, actions and engagement across the 17 Global Goals and identify opportunities to do even more. And each year, by issuing the VUR, we aim to spark action and motivate other institutions across higher education to do the same.


CMU charted a new course when we became the first university in the world to publish a Voluntary University Review, presenting a snapshot of how our activities and efforts across education, research and practices were contributing to the Global Goals at that time.

2020 VUR


CMU’s second VUR kickstarted the transition to an online format. As a result of feedback from students, faculty and staff, it was determined that CMU data collected and mapped to the Global Goals should be interactive and updated on a regular basis, rather than presented in a static report once a year. Now, CMU publishes annual updates, highlights key developments and identifies priorities for the coming academic year.

2021 VUR


We opened the Sustainability Studio in Hunt Library, a designated area for connection, discussion and collaboration across disciplines—to bring the CMU community together in pursuit of a more sustainable future for all.

2022 VUR


Students developed a methodology for campus engagement, advised on content and purpose, and drafted relevant sections under the guidance of the Director of the Sustainability Initiative, propelling the initiative to a new level of impact.

2023 VUR