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Cleantech Commons named by United Nations body as a global top 50 “SDG Model Zone”

SDG Model Zone selection based on a commitment to sustainable development and a focus on addressing global sustainability challenges.

Cleantech Commons the only Canadian research park to be selected for this prestigious award.

Cleantech Commons research and innovation park at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario has been announced as one of the first-ever 50 international “SDG Model Zones“.

Ebba Lund, CEO of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation

The “SDG Model Zone” program is a new initiative of the Global Alliance of Special Economic Zones (GASEZ), a program of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) designed to increase collaboration between special economic zones and support their contributions to sustainable development.

Ebba Lund, CEO of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP), recently announced that Cleantech Commons had been selected as one of just 17 IASP members (from over 300 members across 80 countries) to form part of the first-ever SDG Model Zones cohort.

Cleantech Commons has been selected by GASEZ as a model zone “partner for sustainable development.”

GASEZ calls our research park a “key entity that supports innovation and sustainable economic development.”

Cleantech Commons is the only Canadian research park to be selected for this prestigious accolade, making our park eligible to receive U.N. technical assistance in the area of investment for sustainable development.

The reveal of the 2023 50 SDG Model Zones

The formal announcement of the GASEZ top 50 was made at the organization’s annual conference in Barcelona, Spain on November 9, 2023, following the program’s launch at the UNCTAD World Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi in October 2023, where the top 50 were officially nominated.

The UNCTAD World Investment Forum is the pre-eminent global forum for investment policy-making and multi-stakeholder dialogue on investment in sustainable development.

The highlight of the Barcelona event, according to Zona Franca de Barcelona, was a panel presentation titled “GASEZ initiative to recognise the world’s top 50 Free Trade Zones in relation to the SDGs,” at which the results of the GASEZ initiative to identify model zones for SDG compliance were presented.

Deliberating on the nominees for the GASEZ top 50 at the UNCTAD World Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi in October 2023.

The GASEZ founding members jointly identified 50 SEZs from across the world to be considered SDG model zone partners for sustainable development.

“Model Zone” selection criteria included compliance with criteria directly derived from UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2019, including:

  • a commitment to sustainable development;
  • the promotion of investment in the SDGs; and
  • levels of social, environmental and governance standards and compliance.


The finalists were evaluated based on their commitment to the various SDGs as well as:

  • Having a strategic focus on attracting investment in “SDG-relevant” sectors and activities.
  • Reporting towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets and indicators, and/or work with ESG standards.
  • Promoting inclusive growth through linkages and spillovers (including targeted programmes for women, youth, and rural entrepreneurs).


The 17 IASP members that were selected for the global 50 include (alphabetically, by country):


The selected top 50 innovation ecosystems will serve to showcase how to work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), looking forward to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

You can check out the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals here!

GASEZ is dedicated to advancing a new generation of special economic zones focused on sustainable development. The organization represents some 7,000 special economic zones (SEZs) zones in 145 economies, employing over 100 million people.

SEZs are geographically defined areas within which governments promote economic activity through fiscal and regulatory incentives and infrastructure support. SEZs go by many different names, including free-trade zones, industrial parks, and innovation zones.

Speaking at the launch event in Abu Dhabi in October UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said: “The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides an opportunity for special economic zones to attract investment by putting SDGs at the forefront of their value proposition.”

Grynspan said that this new model of sustainable special economic zones is helping contribute to more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economies.

Certificate Cleantech Commons