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Leiden University third in sustainability ranking

Leiden University is in third place in the SustainaBul sustainability ranking. Students from eleven research universities and nine universities of applied sciences took part in the ranking.

Wageningen University (1) and TU Eindhoven (2) were ranked more highly than Leiden. Last year, Leiden was in fifth place, winning the place for the fastest climber. Jeroen Waijenberg, sustainability and energy coordinator at Leiden University, explained that sustainability is not only a question of doing, but also showing what you are doing.   

'Pure': biological products in the University's restaurants

Investing time

The SustainaBul ranking assesses sustainability in a broad sense and this is the sixth year that the ranking has been published by Studenten van Morgen, a student network for a sustainable future. Every answer to the many questions about all kinds of aspects of sustainability has to be substantiated by the University based on evidence. In the past Leiden devoted too little time to this part of the process. Last year was the first time the University took the preparation for the ranking seriously, freeing time in people's diaries so that the questions could be answered in as much detail as possible. It then became clear the the University was on the right track with sustainability. In this year's ranking Leiden has done even better.

Jan van der Boon, Director of Administration at Leiden University:  impetus for sustainability policy
‘I'm very happy with our excellent performance in SustainaBul. Formulating our environmental plan and starting the Green Office with students are two initiatives that have given a major impetus to our sustainability policy. Now we're busy putting the plans such as the reduction of our CO2 footprint into action.’

Aranka Virágh, environment adviser in the Safety, Health and Environment department: a great motto
'Over the past six years SustainaBul has developed to become a solid instrument. You don't get points for nothing; all the sustainable aspects and answers have to be proven. Fancy talk isn't enough. We're proud of the result because a lot of people have been working really hard on this. At the award ceremony there were a lot of innovative ideas were put forward to achieve more with sustainability. We can learn a lot from other people and will certainly be doing that. On the Day of Sustainability I heard a great motto in one of the panel discussions:  'Data, not words!  You can't put it better than that.'

'Leiden's Centre for Environmental Sciences investigates water quality in 38 ditches that together form a living lab.

Four areas

For the SustainaBul ranking, Studenten van Morgen looked at teaching, research and  operational management, and whether an integrated approach is taken to all these aspects. With teaching, it's important that sustainability is integrated into all programmes, even those that may seem less obvious, so as to raise students' awareness. In research, studies on sustainability are important, but what also counts is whether this knowledge can be applied in a multidisciplinary way. One good example mentioned by Studenten voor Morgen was the joint Centre for Sustainability run by Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam. In operational management it's about 'doing' (green energy, limiting refuse, biological food in restaurants) and about raising  awareness among students and staff. 

Twenty universities

The academic universities are well represented in the SustainaBul ranking: apart from Tilburg, all the Dutch universities take part. Of the almost forty universities of applied sciences, only eight take part, although this number is increasing every year. 

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