Rio+20 Declaration of Higher Education Institutions
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.
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 by signing on to the Declaration below.
“As Chancellors, Presidents, Rectors, Deans and Leaders of Higher Education Institutions and related organizations, we acknowledge the responsibility that we bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development. On the occasion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro from 20-22 June 2012, we agree to support the following actions:
- Teach sustainable development concepts, ensuring that they form a part of the core curriculum across all disciplines so that future higher education graduates develop skills necessary to enter sustainable development workforces and have an explicit understanding of how to achieve a society that values people, the planet and profits in a manner that respects the finite resource boundaries of the earth. Higher Education Institutions are also encouraged to provide sustainability training to professionals and practitioners;
- Encourage research on sustainable development issues, to improve scientific understanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of knowledge, including new and innovative technologies.
- Green our campuses by: i) reducing the environmental footprint through energy, water and material resource efficiencies in our buildings and facilities; ii) adopting sustainable procurement practices in our supply chains and catering services; iii) providing sustainable mobility options for students and faculty; iv) adopting effective programmes for waste minimization, recycling and reuse, and v) encouraging more sustainable lifestyles.
- Support sustainability efforts in the communities in which we reside, working with local authorities and civil society to foster more liveable, resource-efficient communities that are socially inclusive and have small environmental footprints.
- Engage with and share results through international frameworks, such as the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, led by UNESCO, the UN University system, the UN Academic Impact, the Global Compact, the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative and the UN Environment Programme’s Environmental Education and Training initiatives, in order to exchange knowledge and experiences and to report regularly on progress and challenges.”