The university formally recognised the climate emergency in February, on the evening before the start of OccupyEUR’s second occupation campaign. With the package of measures announced on Tuesday, the Executive Board wants to show that it is taking the state of emergency seriously. “Our commitments raise expectations, and rightly so”, say the board.

During fourteen dialogue sessions, the aim is for ‘the entire EUR community’ to be included in the process and for ‘effects on all levels of the university in both the short and long term’ to be discussed. For example, faculties could focus on sustainability in research, education, leadership and operational management, but also on the extent to which certain disciplines contribute to sustainability.

In 2023, eleven dialogues will be organised at faculties and three involving multiple faculties. The sessions are intended for students and staff. The first sessions will take place before the summer, with the dates to be announced shortly.

Research into links with the fossil fuel industry

All the dialogue sessions will also discuss the links with the fossil fuel industry. The EUR is not going as far as VU University Amsterdam, which announced last week that it would no longer collaborate with fossil energy companies, but wishes to investigate which existing collaborations have a major impact on climate and ecosystems. A report on this will be published in the third quarter of 2023.

In order to examine how sustainability is reflected in the education, a public dashboard will be created after the summer. The way in which research contributes to sustainability can be seen in the Sustainable Development Goals mapper, a more expanded version of which will also be available this summer. This allows everyone to see how research publications contribute to these goals.

Broader bicycle and public transport schemes

The Executive Board is also taking a number of concrete measures with immediate effect. For example, the limit on the public transport allowance is being scrapped for employees and the bicycle scheme is being expanded. The catering will become vegetarian, with financial incentives for vegan meals.

Previous agreements, such as the commitment that the university will have a net positive impact on the climate and ecosystems by 2030, will continue to guide the sustainability policy. The Executive Board undertakes to regularly share updates on progress.

More sustainability jobs

Levi Polderman, chair of the Erasmus Sustainability Hub, is generally pleased with the package of measures. “It’s a good start, and I can see that students are now genuinely being involved in the implementation of all these measures, but there is still a long way to go. And we are also critical of how many people can truly focus on sustainability at the university. This is currently one full-time job compared to fifteen jobs for diversity and inclusion, for example. Sustainability also needs to head in the same direction.”

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