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UN Entities Launch Higher Education Sustainability Initiative

RIO+201 March 2012: Five UN entities have launched the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative aimed at committing leaders of the international academic community to develop sustainable practices for Higher Education institutions, ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The UN Academic Impact (UNAI), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Global Compact (UNGC) and UN University (UNU), together with the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), have launched the initiative, which calls on leaders of Higher Education institutions to sign a Declaration of Commitment to Sustainable Practices of Higher Education Institutions. The Declaration commits them to, inter alia, the teaching of sustainable development concepts as part of the core curriculum. The initiative notes that because Higher Education institutions educate and train decision makers, they play an important role in building more sustainable societies and have a special responsibility to provide leadership on education for sustainable development.

The Declaration that institution leaders are invited to sign also commits them to: encourage research on sustainable development issues; “green” campuses by, among other things, reducing the environmental footprint through energy, water and material resource efficiencies in buildings and facilities; support sustainability efforts in the communities in which they reside; and exchange knowledge and experiences, and report regularly on progress and challenges, through international frameworks, such as the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. [UNCSD Press Release] [The Declaration]