The university previously announced its plans to become a meat-free campus by 2030. “The university recognises that eating plant-based foods is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, it states in a press release. The aim is to reduce emissions, not ‘just pay to offset them’. Additional steps will therefore be taken towards becoming a meat-free campus. Starting next quarter, staff will only be able to order vegetarian snacks and meals from the catering service, and discounts will be offered to encourage students to eat vegetarian.
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The Executive Board will consider what other measures the university will take. That should happen by the end of this year. In the transition plan to be drawn up, the university wishes to explore how it can help to promote biodiversity and combat global warming. Relationships with ‘organisations that have a major impact on the climate and ecosystems’ will be critically examined as well. Following an analysis, the Board will not make an immediate decision on breaking ties, as demanded by activist group OccupyEUR. According to the university, the decision regarding whether or not to end these relationships involves ‘important values such as academic freedom and the independence of scientific research’. The issue should therefore be discussed within the entire university community.
Sustainability education and research
According to the university, all students will ‘come into contact with sustainability education about the climate and ecological emergency’ in the years ahead. What this will look like is not yet clear.
The university should create more space for research that can contribute to ‘faster restoration of the climate, ecosystems and a more just society’. Partnerships between faculties should be encouraged, and researchers should also be given the opportunity to learn the necessary research skills.
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Climate and ecological emergency
With the intention to refine its own policy, the university wishes to acknowledge that the world is facing a climate and ecological emergency. “As an organisation, we want our education, research and business operations to have a net positive impact on both the climate and ecosystems”, says Executive Board President Ed Brinksma. “The science clearly shows that action must be taken worldwide. What we do in the next ten years will have an impact on many generations to come. With this statement, we aim to broaden and accelerate the sustainability transition in our research, education and business operations, together with our entire organisation.”