Higher Education Sustainability Initiative for Rio +20

Anlässlich der diesjährigen UN-Konferenz für nachhaltige Entwicklung („Rio +20-Konferenz“) können Hochschulen und sonstige Einrichtungen der akademischen Bildung eine Deklaration unterzeichnen, mit der sie die Bedeutung und Notwendigkeit einer nachhaltigen Entwicklung ihrer Einrichtung unterstreichen.
On the occasion of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, the leaders of the international academic community are called upon to commit to the development of sustainable practices for Higher Education Institutions. They are invited to sign on to a Declaration.

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.

With the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the international community committed to making every effort to ensure sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations. The aim of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges.

Since Higher Education Institutions educate and train decision makers, they play a key role in building more sustainable societies and creating new paradigms. As educational institutions, they have the mission to promote development through both research and teaching, disseminating new knowledge and insight to their students and building their capabilities. Given the objectives of Rio+20, Higher Education Institutions have a special responsibility to provide leadership on education for sustainable development.

Education for sustainable development aims at enabling everyone to acquire the values, competencies, skills and knowledge necessary to contribute to building a more sustainable society. This implies revising teaching content to respond to global and local challenges. It should also promote teaching methods that enable students to acquire skills such as interdisciplinary thinking, integrated planning, understanding complexity, cooperating with others in decision-making processes, and participating in local, national and global processes towards sustainable development.