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Universities publish 12 ambitious theses and intend to become leaders in sustainable development

“There is no more time for ceremonial speeches – it’s time to act”

Carbon neutrality by 2030, sustainable development at the heart of strategies, and strong support for the Finnish Government’s climate and biodiversity goals. All of the above is included in the plans of Finnish universities through mutual theses on sustainable development and responsibility, which have been published today (Nov. 24th, 2020).

The thesis package contains extensive recommendations for measures to be taken in teaching, research, administration, societal impact and funding model of universities.

– Universities are bringing their sustainability and responsibility work to a new level. This has to be done in order to save the future of our planet and leave hope for the next generations. There is no more time for ceremonial speeches – now is the time to act, says Tom Böhling, vice-rector and the chairman of the working group that prepared the theses.

The theses list key measures that universities intend to take without delay. These include making sustainability and responsibility a part of all studies, emission reduction targets, determined elimination of discrimination and including sustainability thinking in all activities from management systems to the recruitment criteria and the evaluation of research projects. Each university promotes these goals, prioritising them in a way that best suits them. What is essential is that the measures are effective and that the vision created for 2030 is achieved.

– With this ambitious plan, universities strongly support the climate and biodiversity goals of the Finnish Government and the European Union. Research and education play a key role in ideas on how to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035 or how to become a pioneer in the circular economy. We hope that the theses will also create strong cooperation with decision-makers and other operators in society, says Keijo Hämäläinen, Chairman of the Finnish Council of University Rectors UNIFI.

The theses have been prepared by a working group of Unifi, which includes all universities and the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL). Åbo Akademi University’s representative has been Deputy Director Catharina Groop from the Centre for lifelong learning.

Hopefully the end result will stimulate lively discussion both in the academic community and on a broader scale.

– Today’s publication of the theses marks the start of a determined effort in our communities to promote climate, biodiversity and equality. We invite all operators in society to promote these important issues with us, Böhling encourages.

Read more:

UNIFI’s theses on sustainable development and responsibility.

More information:

Vice-Rector Tom Böhling
Chairman, Unifi’s Working Group on Sustainability and Responsibility
Tel. +358 2941 22251

Rector Keijo Hämäläinen
Chairman, Finnish Council of University Rectors UNIFI ry
Tel. +358 40 0247 435

Deputy Director Catharina Groop 
Tel. +358 50 428 3762