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. Awareness is growing that all HEIs worldwide have a significant ecological footprint themselves.
We propose to investigate and to discuss a more intense knowledge collaboration between Universities to 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.
We will develop experiences and knowledge and characterize, systemize, and exchange success and failure factors for Living Labs. At the end of the workshop, you will have described your own Living Lab in a well-structured, communicable way.
This initiative has so far led to a draft common framework. In a highly intellectual competitive environment combined with real estate and facility conservatism, it seems that creating a common language, and taking a modest approach, advocating sharing and co-creation rather than ownership of the system are important success factors.
The following values may be pursued in using Living Labs for Sustainable campuses:
- to support the planning stages of campus-based sustainability projects, to ensure that the educational, research and wider community 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, allowing people from across the world to easily access detailed case studies of processes, practices and products to inform their own work on sustainable practices in their own HEIs