Zhejiang University seeks to realize UN’s sustainable goals

Mentors and students pose for pictures at the BRIDGE Design Week event on Sept 11 at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The BRIDGE Design Week 2021 has wrapped up in Zhejiang University, with 10 teams of students from 17 universities around the world presenting their design proposals to help achieve five of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs): Quality Education; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure; Sustainable Cities and Communities; as well as Responsible Consumption and Productions.

Awards were given at the event, which was held in a hybrid online and offline format, with the later “Action” stage expected to bring the most promising and inspiring proposals into actual use.

The design week was the highlight of the Better Responsibility Initiative – Design for Good Earth (BRIDGE) Sustainable Design Action, co-hosted by Zhejiang University and Alibaba Design Committee as part of the university’s sustainability action plan – A Global ZJU for Social Good (Z4G).

“As an exciting part of Z4G, the BRIDGE initiative hopes to bring together a new generation of designers and educators to inspire design applications that can meet sustainability requirements,” said Li Min, director of the Zhejiang University Office of Global Engagement.

Launched on Aug 8, the BRIDGE Sustainable Design Action involves 80 students, 24 advisors and 12 mentors from multiple countries including China, Japan, Italy, Sweden, South Korea, Singapore, Brunei and South Africa.

The BRIDGE initiative is composed of three stages: the “Vision” stage saw advisers and mentors giving inspiring talks; the “Design” stage saw students developing and presenting design ideas; while the “Action” stage will see selected ideas being applied in the real world.

According to organizer Sun Lingyun, deputy director of the International Design Institute of Zhejiang University, the event aims to use the power of design to solve real-world problems related to sustainability.

“We hope to cooperate with enterprises and gain more support from outside schools in later efforts to put students’ design proposals into use, and to make our BRIDGE initiative an ongoing event,” Sun said in Hangzhou China.

Maria Rita Ferrara, an associate professor of industrial design at Politecnico di Milano, is an invited advisor of the BRIDGE Sustainable Design Action. “Design must address complexity in an integrated way. It must be able to make changes palatable to society, and use nature as inspiration to respond to social and environmental needs,” she said.

Under the instruction of the United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries, Zhejiang University has established the Eco-Design Promotion Center in response to the UN’s 2030 Agenda calls.

Professor Li Min further explained the university’s commitment to the SDGs: “In the face of major challenges, concerted actions need to be taken more broadly. We, as innovation-driven universities, have a greater responsibility to shoulder and a unique role to play.”

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