Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Growth (2 hits),

Full Submission

Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges - UK

Input for the Compilation Document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20, 2012

The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges - EAUC is the sustainability alliance for the United Kingdom. Established in 1996 the EAUC comprises 312 UK universities and colleges plus another 160 governmental, professional and support organisations and private companies.

Our vision is a university, college and learning and skills sector where the principles and values of environmental, economic and social sustainability are embedded.

Our Mission is to lead, inspire and equip Members and stakeholders with a shared vision, knowledge and the tools they need to embed sustainability within curriculum and operations.

To develop a position to inform the Rio +20 submission, in October 2011 the EAUC conducted a survey of its members. We had a very significant response reflecting the aspiration (and frustration) from within the TE sector to play a more significant part in leading change. In addition to the survey a consultation event was held at the University of Exeter. I am grateful to EAUC Board Member Harriet Sjerps Jones at the University of Exeter for leading the EAUC response.

Why the critical role of Tertiary Education Institutions to Global Sustainable Development must be central to Rio+20 discussions

The role that tertiary education can, should and does play in achieving sustainable development has often gone unrecognized and/or under represented. In the past two decades, it has become clear that tertiary education institutions:

? Provide relevant and critical education to our future government, business, industry, education and community leaders. By integrating sustainable development into curriculum, skills training and student development, tertiary education will equip the future with people who have the ethical principles, knowledge and capacity to positively impact the global economic and educational systems, to eradicate poverty and improve access to education for all;

? Are critical homes for the research that provides sustainable solutions to the complex problems of development. Indeed, Secretary Ban Ki-moon pointed out in his call for the world?s academic community to find solutions to global hunger, water shortages, and energy issues, ?the academic community can help us connect the dots?; and

? Serve as the ?test beds? for examining the context in which innovative sustainability practices are executed. As these institutions implement a variety of context-specific sustainability practices through education and operations, they demonstrate the viability of these practices and provide models for sustainable development.

However, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is still not being supported at the national level. This is the conclusion of the UNESCO first report on the DESD (2009). International frameworks such as the UN DESD and UNFCCC have presented ESD models but these have not been implemented or supported by national agencies particularly in further and higher education.

In light of this, it is recommended that:

Tertiary institutions and governments alike should provide resources and funding to facilitate the fundamental shift to embed sustainability in the curriculum, research, and operations of tertiary education. The development of tools, resources and appropriate professional development for academics and institutional leaders are required for this fundamental shift in our collective approach to sustainable development to be successful;

Each tertiary institution within developed countries should partner and work with a tertiary institution from a developing country, for the purpose and mutual benefit of research, knowledge and resource exchange. Each institution should make this partnership explicit through registering on a dedicated UNCSD page, though we do have concerns that this could become a meaningless window-dressing exercise.

Every tertiary institution should commit to sharing and learning from one another in the spirit of international partnership and long-term global societal benefit.

Tertiary institutions will act as a locus for catalytic research, learning and action for a transition towards a ?Green Economy?. We are divided over the use of the words ?green economy? or ?green Growth? as to many of us this still emphasises economy and Growth, and could neglect the importance of social value like social capital and community participation.

The EAUC would like to see Rio Plus 20 provide incentives and governance frameworks to ensure that the role of education and learning for sustainability is understood by national agencies and supported through grants and other incentives particularly within FE and HE.

Actions and implementation frameworks are being identified for Climate Change, Biodiversity, MDGS and similar thematic areas. ESD should have a similar set of actions and implementation framework which identifies what constitutes progress in ESD in TE (amongst other sectors).

Iain Patton, Chief Executive, Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges
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