- Green Plan (initially launched in France):The “Plan Vert” is a sustainable development strategy designed by university associations in France (Conférence des Grandes Ecoles and Conference of University Presidents), the French government and non-governmental organizations within the framework of the Grenelle Environment Roundtable. It consists of a framework of objectives and actions drawn from the European Sustainable Development Strategy and is designed to pilot and evaluate those actions. More than 100 “Grandes Ecoles” and universities used it in 2010.
- STARS (initially launched in US): The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS® was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education with broad participation from the higher education community.
- LiFe Index (initially launched in UK): Learning in Future Environments (LiFE) was developed in response to a growing need to embed social responsibility and sustainability into the activities of universities and colleges. Throughout the development of LiFE, the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges has worked extensively with people and institutions from across the sector. This support has been crucial to develop a system that is relevant and beneficial to all types of institutions.
- AISHE (initially launched in Netherlands): AISHE, the Assessment Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education, was developed and validated in the Netherlands in 2000-2001 by DHO, the Dutch Foundation for Sustainable Higher Education. With the help of AISHE results, universities or their departments can be awarded the ‘Certificate of Sustainable Higher Education’, which is a star system, enabling universities to acquire 1, 2, 3 or 4 stars. AISHE can be applied freely by any university. (‘Publications section’). In Dutch only.
- UNAI: Launched in 2010, the United Nations Academic Impact is a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in actively supporting ten universally-accepted principles in the areas of human rights, literacy, sustainability and conflict resolution. UNAI also asks each participating academic institution to demonstrate active support for at least one of those principles each year. UNAI has regional hubs, including one on sustainability, which is coordinated by the Black Sea University Network, based at the University of Costanta in Romania. In March 2011, the Black Sea University Network facilitated a conference entitled Education and Governance for Sustainable Development, which aimed at defining priority directions for promoting cooperation among UNAI members in the field of sustainable development. As a follow-up, in November, representatives of over ten universities from the Black Sea University Network came to UN Headquarters, where they met with UN officials working in the sustainable development field, including from DESA, UNDP, UNEP, and other offices, in a series of meetings facilitated by UNAI. This provided an opportunity for an exchange of ideas and information, as UN officials learned about projects spearheaded by the various universities in the Black Sea region, and Black Sea representatives obtained specialized information from UN experts working in their respective fields.
- UNEP: The United Nations Environment Programme conducts Environmental Education and Training that promotes attitudes and value systems that influence environmentally ethical behaviour by developing understanding, skills and values that enable people to participate as active and informed citizens in the development of an ecologically sustainable and socially just society. Environmental Education is fundamental to the achievement of the goal of Sustainable Development. Education and training are essential to UNEP fulfilling its mandate of inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to achieve sustainable development. UNEP’s flagship initiative is the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability,,which aims to promote the integration of environment and sustainability concerns into teaching, research, community engagement, the management of universities, greening of university infrastructure/facilities/operations, as well as to enhance student engagement and participation in sustainability activities both within and beyond universities.
- UNESCO: As lead-agency of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO supports policy-makers in integrating Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into education plans and curricula; publishes material on ESD for decision-makers, teachers and students; monitors progress in the implementation of the UN Decade; communicates good ESD practice in all areas of education; brings together ESD practitioners from all world regions; and contributes to developing ESD further.
- UNGC: The UN Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to voluntarily align their operations and strategies with ten universally-accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of UN goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. The UN Global Compact is a multistakeholder leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible corporate policies and practices. Launched in 2000, it is the largest corporate responsibility initiative in the world, with over 10,000 signatories based in 140 countries. Higher education institutions are encouraged to participate in the UN Global Compact as deeply and meaningfully as the thousands of traditional corporate and organizational participants that have adopted its principles for over a decade. A working group of UN Global Compact academic stakeholders has developed guidelines for higher education institution to implement the principles in their goals, strategies, and operations.
- PRME: The mission of the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative is to inspire and champion responsible management education, research and thought leadership globally. The PRME are inspired by internationally accepted values such as the principles of the United Nations Global Compact. They seek to establish a process of continuous improvement among institutions of management education in order to develop a new generation of business leaders capable of managing the complex challenges faced by business and society in the 21st century.
In the current academic environment, corporate responsibility and sustainability have entered but not yet become embedded in the mainstream of business-related education. The PRME are therefore a timely global call for business schools and universities worldwide to gradually adapt their curricula, research, teaching methodologies and institutional strategies to the new business challenges and opportunities. Taking the Six Principles as a guiding framework, any institution which is willing to integrate corporate responsibility and sustainability in a gradual but systemic manner is welcome to join the initiative.
- UNU: The United Nations University implements research and educational programmes in the area of sustainable development, with the particular aim of assisting developing countries. Established in 1973 as “an international community of scholars, engaged in research, postgraduate training and dissemination of knowledge in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”, UNU operates through a worldwide nexus of institutes and programmes. UNU serves as a think tank for the United Nations system and provides a bridge between the UN and the international academic and policy-making communities.
- The 50+20 initiative describes a vision for the transformation of management education, in which the common tenet of being the best in the world is revised in favor of creating businesses that are designed and led to achieve the best for the world. Providing management education for the world, according to the 50+20 Agenda, involves three fundamental roles: educating and developing globally responsible leaders, enabling business organizations to serve the common good, and engaging in the transformation of business and the economy. (http://50plus20.org)
- The People´s Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education : A group of over 30 agencies, organisations and associations came together in 2012 to influence Rio + 20 dialogues. These stakeholders are rooted in different regions of the globe and actively engaged in sustainable development at the higher education level. The partnership, led by Copernicus Alliance with the support of UNU IAS and the International Association of Universities has generated a Higher Education Treaty for Rio+20. This Treaty is one of a series of People’s Treaties developed to influence Rio+20 but also to make visible commitments across various sectors.
The process of influencing higher education to reorient itself towards sustainability is complex and a long term commitment. Others engaged in, and with, higher education are invited to support this process by becoming signatories to the Treaty. The Treaty will remain open for signatories until the 31st August. Plans will then be developed in the autumn to progress, as well as showcase, efforts of signatories beyond 2012. You can download the People´s Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education by clicking here.