Why Sustainability in Education?

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“Education for Sustainable Development allows everyone to acquire the knowledge, skills and values that empower them to contribute to sustainable development. Higher education plays a crucial role in this regard. We have witnessed substantial commitment from higher education stakeholders during the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. We are hoping this commitment can be scaled up in the follow-up to the UN Decade. Platforms such as this provide important tools in that regard.”

Alexander Leicht, Chief, Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO

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 tertiary education sector 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. 

What is the Sustainability Scope of Responsibility?

Here is a useful graphic from the Practical guide to the UN GC for higher education institutions published for RIO 2012 & adapted From Euromed Management – Kedge