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Co-participation and LUGO unite for a sustainable university

Leiden University needs to become the sustainability frontrunner of the Dutch universities, the co-participation and the Leiden University Green Office (LUGO) call for. This means that sustainability needs to be further integrated into education and research, as well as the university’s business operations.

Members of the University Council and LUGO brought members from the faculty councils together. The initiative led to an advice about what the university needs to do to become a real sustainable university. The advice has both central and faculty related points, and will be submitted to the Executive Board and the Faculty Boards. Advice is among others given about the integration of sustainability into education, work travel and sustainable options in the restaurants and cafes of the university.

Especially the education and research of the university need to become more sustainable. All students should get the opportunity within their programme to obtain sustainable knowledge and skills related to their discipline. The Executive Board and the Faculty Boards are asked to make funding available to programmes to make their programs more sustainable. Support for educational staff and ‘off-the-shelf’ examples are also crucial to achieve this. Also with regard to research, a clearer link needs to be sought with sustainability in the research. 

About the business operations, the initiative advises to make the catering and transport more sustainable. Regarding catering, this means that this should become plastic-free and principally plant-based, with additional non-plant based options. Commute with public transport should become financially more attractive, and international business travel up to 600 kilometer should be made via the train and other forms of sustainable transport. Through the VSNU, the university should encourage the ABP to only invest its pensions sustainably.

The initiative asks the university to make better visible what already happens with sustainability, and what the ambitions are for the future. 
The proposal is discussed in the meeting at the end of August between the University Council and the Executive Board, together with the sustainability vision. It should be seen as a call to finally take sustainability seriously, and not as something optional. Considering the upcoming Strategic Plan, it is intuitive to take the next step now. “Sustainability has been on the university’s agenda for a long time, and this initiative should be seen as an encouragement to take a serious new step,” University Council member Floor van Lelyveld stated. 

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