UN SDGs and Universities
The urgency of the UN global sustainability challenges to secure a clean, healthy, safe, and prosperous world for everyone and the necessity to improve material, water, land, and energy efficiency by several factors is widely acknowledged. The complexity of these challenges calls for integral, innovative, and systematic approaches. University communities are excellent venues for testing, accelerating and scaling solutions. Institutes of higher education (HEIs) have an astounding capacity to contribute to achieving global sustainability goals and to CO2 emission reduction. The primary functions - (formal) education and (fundamental/scientific) research - lead to the people and know-how to solve the challenges.
Campus as Living Labs
A forgotten area now gaining traction are the campus facilities and community as an informal learning environment and test-bed for students and researchers and to show-how their innovations. Universities worldwide have a significant ecological footprint themselves.
We rigorously investigate and analyze university Living Labs for Sustainability by structuring, comparing, and monitoring university campus transformational processes, and using the lessons learned actively to help modify and strengthen operations in our own and other campuses. Creating a common language, and taking a modest approach, advocating sharing and co-creation rather than ownership of the system are important success factors.
This initiative has led to a draft common framework and a handbook.
Values of Living Labs
Living Labs for Sustainable campuses have create these values:
- to support the planning stages of campus-based sustainability projects, to ensure that all stakeholders' benefits are maximised;
- to support the monitoring of such projects, ensuring opportunities for benefits are fully explored throughout;
- to support the reflection and internal learning of a project once completed, and ascertain ways to develop further impact;
- as a tool to improve engagement and communication with diverse stakeholders;
- as a way of disseminating good practice across the global sustainability HEI community.