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Sustainable Development at the University of Vechta

The University of Vechta strives to integrate the concept of sustainable development into all its functional areas – research and teaching, administration and campus design. This page is intended to show how the University of Vechta contributes to sustainable development.

 

Sustainable Development in the university's overall strategy

In the target agreements of the University of Vechta with the state of Lower Saxony (2019-2021), the university commits to "promote ‘a culture of sustainability’ as defined by the 25th general assembly of the German Rectors' Conference HRK in Lüneburg on 6 November 2018" (p. 5).

Accordingly, the University Development Plan of the University of Vechta (2019-2023), with its cross-sectional dimension of sustainability, illustrates the ambition to strengthen the university's sustainability profile and to further advance the concept of sustainable development (p. 52).

Against the background of current and future global challenges, such as climate change, waste and scarcity of resources, hunger and poverty, an endangered ecosystem, energy supply, globalisation, etc., the perspective of sustainable development is becoming increasingly important. Shaping the sustainable development of our (global) society is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 addressed the issue for the first time at a global political level. At that time, the global community agreed upon a strategy with Agenda 21 for implementing the concept of sustainable development.

Defining Sustainable Development

Not many terms are interpreted as differently and used in different contexts as the term “sustainability”. A widespread definition of sustainable development is the one by the Brundtland Commission of 1987:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland Commission, 1987).

Since the Rio Conference and the global action programme “Agenda 21” adopted there, the education sector and, in particular, universities have been attributed with special importance and responsibility in the process of sustainable development. Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 identifies “reorienting education towards sustainable development” as a key field of action. Education is the basis for people to deal with environmental and development issues so that a social and value-oriented change of awareness with regard to the environment can be realised. Universities in particular are educational institutions where future decision-makers are trained, new knowledge is generated and an awareness of the sustainable development of our society can be created. Sustainability-related research and teaching is characterised by inter- and transdisciplinarity. As an institutional body, a university also produces its own environmental footprint, which is why sustainability principles must also be taken into account in campus design, administration and management. This means that a university should not only teach and examine sustainability, but also set an example for it.