Last week I had the luck to be present in 3rd international sustainable univeristies' conference, taking place in Lausanne, Switzerland, organised by International Sustainable Campus Network. It was amazing to know that so prestigious universities like Yale, Harvard, Cambridge, etc are also taking direction towards becoming more sustainable. It was also nice to see that there were universities present in the conference from almost all the continents.
Unversities seem to be seeking sustainability in mainly 2 directions:
1) reducing the negative environmental impact of their buldings through energy efficiency, reducing water use, amount of waste, CO2 emissions, etc;
2) creating environmental awareness, involving students, scientists, management and local communities into common actions towards sustainability.
Listening to different presentations, taking part in workshops and just discussing with different university leaders, there was one clear message: students are seen as key part towards change. Universities are looking for different ways how to involve students more, as in that way it's also easier to convice other parties to contribute to changes. Also, this year, first 2 awards for sustainable universities (construction and impact award) were given out, but there is plan to create more categories, one of them being award for student initiatives. And btw, representative from Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement in UK seemed to be quite interested in cooperation with AEGEE ;)
So I think that there is much that we as students and AEGEE memebrs could do to spread the idea of sustainable universities in Europe, to make our own universities more sustainable. There are so many good examples to show already in the world, we just need to make our voices heard. After all, universities as education and research centres can play so important role in turning whole society towards sustainability.