Universities across the world are recognising and asserting their pivotal role in affecting the necessary changes in social norms and practices, through research, teaching and community engagement. Early international initiatives on higher education for sustainable development include the 1991 Talloires declaration (over 300 University signatories), the 1993 Copernicus Alliance (over 326 signatories in 2006), and the United Nations Declaration on the ‘Decade of Education for Sustainable Development from 2005 – 2014’, which set up regional networks and centres of excellence.
One of the recent initiatives is the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), which posits sustainable campuses as models and living laboratories for sustainable solutions in building- and urban-design, resource use, and communal life. Associated goals include fostering research and teaching that transcends disciplinary boundaries and focuses more on real-world problem-solving. Founding members of the ISCN include the ETH Zürich and the Universities of Copenhagen, Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Tongji, and Tokyo. The University of Luxembourg (UL) has joined the ISCN in April 2008, and is chairing one of four working groups.
Former President Rolf Tarrach signing the ISCN Charter
Report on ISCN Working Group II co-ordinated by Ariane König, University of Luxembourg
- ISCN Charter: WG II, with input from other WGs, drafted the ISCN Charter by which signatories agree to setting targets appropriate to their context, regular reporting and committing resources towards sustainable campus development. This charter is being considered for signature by the GULF group during the next World Economic Forum in Davos.
- ISCN Guidelines: WG II has developed a first draft of ISCN Guidelines with more specific recommendations for implementing the overarching goals stated in the Charter, highlighting areas suitable for quantitative target setting and reporting.
- Searchable Web Database: The ISCN Guidelines provided a template for the development of a searchable web-data base by the University of Zagreb in collaboration with the University of Luxembourg, into which case studies of sustainable campus development projects will be entered. The case studies will provide examples of concrete measures, successes, challenges and failures in implementation, and where possible information on costs and paybacks over time. To ease searches, each measure in each case is associated with a Charter goal, the relevant ISCN guideline, and a field (environment, social or economic). Campus cases will be categorized with respect to their location and degree of urban integration (for example green-field, high-tech, or urban, in Asia, Europe, or North America). The first entry-cases for Universities leading in sustainable campus development are in preparation: Australia National University, Yale, and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. An overview on the suggested structure of the data base is attached as a pdf file. Annex I provides more information on the data base structure.