20/02/13 - Launch of the International Platform for Sustainability Performance in Education

The Platform for Sustainability Performance in Education was launched at the 27th Session of United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya on the 20th February 2013 at a special Green Room Event led by UNEP including Environment Ministers, Education Sector leaders, Governmental and Non-Governmental advisers and representatives. The 27th Session of UNEP’s Governing Council is historic as it is UNEP’s first universal session, following the Rio+20 Summit last year, 40 years since UNEP was first established.

The Platform for Sustainability Performance in Education brings together global organisations which have created sustainability assessment tools designed to support universities and colleges improve their social, economic and environmental accountability.

By coming together it is our goal that more universities and colleges learn about the value of sustainability assessment tools to improve the sustainability performance across the whole of their institution. Education is being reinvented and we desperately need ‘turn-around’ leadership which is up to the challenge of delivering institutions and graduates which are fit for the economic, environmental and social complexity and challenges we now face.

The Platform is also designed to assist commitments of HESI, Higher Education Sustainability Initiative signatories, by providing a range of tools and options in assessing and improving their sustainability performance. It can also support complimentary Rio+20 initiatives such as the People's Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education.

The Platform brings together organisations from around the world that promote sustainability assessments tools, including:
• The Association for the Advancement in Sustainability in Higher Education – AASHE, North America
• Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability – ACTS, Australasia
• Assessment Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education – AISHE, Netherlands
• Conference of Grandes Ecoles – CGE, France
• Conference of University Presidents – CPU, France
• Conference of Rectors of Universities – CRUE, Spain
• Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges – EAUC, United Kingdom
• The Network for the Promotion of Sustainability in Postgraduate Education and Research - ProSPER.Net, Asia and Pacific

Mahesh Pradhan, Chief, Environmental Education and Training Unit, UNEP, announced that "UNEP is very pleased to see this Platform as an effort to assist with the implementation of the HESI initiative, which was launched on the margins of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012. The Platform provides an excellent mechanism for Universities to implement and monitor their sustainability commitments and performance. UNEP hopes to also promote the Platform through the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES)."

According to Jean-Christophe Carteron, Platform Director and the International Representative of Sustainability in French Higher Education, “In every higher education institution, there have always been people who are aware of sustainability issues and are engaged daily to improve their institution’s strategy. We have seen lots of great projects all over the world, research chairs, Master’s programmes, marvellous green campus management, and innovative social policies. However, rarely have such institutions incorporated these values and concepts into their strategies in a transversal manner. When we began working on the Platform for Sustainable Performance in Education, we discovered that although each partner had created different tools, we all wanted the education sector to be more responsible and all of our tools cover the entire scope of our responsibility.”

Coordinating the Platform, Iain Patton, EAUC CEO says “It’s encouraging that around the world there is a fast growing realisation that universities and colleges urgently need to find new models to help them evolve their leadership and operation to ensure success in a very different and disrupted further and higher education and global climate. In the face of a multitude of economic, social and environmental crises, the old models and systems are being found wanting and we cling onto them at our peril.

Understandably but regrettably many in education are focusing on the unfolding implications of fee changes and the increased pressure to reduce costs. Some are doing an excellent job of tackling environmental management challenges like carbon reduction or sustainable procurement, but this alone just isn’t enough any more. The pioneers of sustainability assessment and reporting know that it’s the long-term big picture which is where the real prize will be found. These future-fit leaders are breaking out of the moulds and daring to carve a very new path into the unchartered and unclear territory of tomorrow’s tertiary education. Education is being reinvented and we desperately need ‘turn-around’ leadership which is up to the challenge of delivering institutions and graduates which are fit for the economic, environmental and social complexity and challenges we now face.”

Visit www.sustainabilityperformance.org to learn more.


Notes to the Editor

Media contact: Fiona Goodwin, [email protected], +44 1242 714321

Further information:

The Platform for Sustainability Performance in Education – www.sustainabilityperformance.org – visit the website for further information on the Partners, an overview of the Tools and why assessment in education is important.

Higher Education Sustainability Initiative for Rio+20 - http://www.uncsd2012.org/index.php?page=view&nr=341&type=12&menu=35

People's Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education – List of Signatories - http://insight.glos.ac.uk/sustainability/Education/Pages/People%27sSustainabilityTreatyonHigherEducation.aspx