Universiteit Leiden

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Dossier

Sustainability in research

Research carried out at Leiden University contributes to our knowledge of sustainability. This is essential if we want to work together to find solutions to pressing issues, such as the current climate emergency and the shortage of raw materials.

The University also fulfils its societal role by providing information to the general public through lectures and media appearances by its researchers, and by featuring sustainability-related research on the University website. It also collaborates with its LDE partners (Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam) in an interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to sustainability: the Centre for Sustainability.

How things stand

The University is establishing a network of scientists and lecturers who are engaged sustainability issues. In 2021, a survey will be conducted among employees to gather information about those subjects, courses, minors and master’s degree programmes that already address the theme of sustainability. The University also addresses sustainability in its communications and regularly asks employees to contribute new ideas.

Much of the research in the field of sustainability is conducted by, or carried out in close cooperation with, the Faculty of Science. This faculty has organised its research into research areas: Fundamentals of Science and Bioscience: the Science Base of Health. Sustainability research is carried out in both areas. The Faculty also has its own Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML). Here, researchers conduct strategic, multidisciplinary research on the sustainable management of natural resources, environmental quality and biodiversity. The CML has two research programmes in this area: Environmental Biology and Industrial Ecology. Both programmes focus on the relationship between human activities and the physical and natural environment.

Sustainability in research programmes

The interdisciplinary programme Liveable Planet – Sustainable Futures is dedicated to climate change. Leiden University researchers are pursuing a society in which energy and raw materials are used in a way that preserves natural capital and minimises the impact on health. To achieve this, the scientists first want to investigate how natural and economic ecosystems function and their impact on health and natural capital. They are also researching how social drivers affect the human ecosystem. Finally, they are exploring new types of government policies and transition management that will help us achieve a more sustainable society. See also the research dossier Keeping the planet liveable.

Leiden scientists from various disciplines are conducting research that is contributing to the transition to sustainable energy and the reduction of CO2. These research projects on Renewable Energy are carried out as part of the Fundamentals of Science profile. Experts often cite 2050 as the date by which the transition to new, sustainable energy sources must be completed. Fossil fuels play a major role in global warming, and they are also running out. Consequently, the world needs to switch to new, sustainable sources of energy. Solar energy seems to show the greatest potential.

In addition, Leiden University participates in several research programmes in which sustainability is a major theme, such as MiCRop, a collaboration project between Dutch universities, and SUNRISE, which is funded by the European Union’s Horizon2020 programme.

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