Twenty-two presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors of universities
from all over the world convened at the Tufts European Center
in Talloires, France from October 4-7, 1990 to discuss the role
of universities and, in particular, the role of university presidents
in environmental management and sustainable development.
Assisted by internationally respected environmental leaders,
the presidents explored the state of the natural environment,
the impact of human population growth and economic activity on
the environment, and strategies for the future.
The presidents discussed the role of education, research, policy
formation, and information exchange in managing human impact on
the environment. Since the majority of the presidents were from
developing countries, concerns about resource depletion, poverty,
and the need for substantial assistance from developed countries
received equal attention with local, regional, and global pollution
The conference was organized and hosted by Tufts University President
Jean Mayer and sponsored by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation,
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the John D. and
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. After a keynote address by
Maurice Strong, secretary general of the United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development (to be held in Brazil in June 1992),
the presidents developed a series of recommendations which are
summarized in this report. The conference ended with a declaration
of actions to be taken by the participants.
The presidents believe this conference is an important first
step in engaging the considerable resources of universities to
work toward an environmentally sustainable future. They pledge
mutual support as they take actions at their own universities
to implement the recommendations. They hope their deliberations
will encourage other university leaders to initiate programs to
prepare their graduates for the challenges of the twenty-first
century. They invite their colleagues to sign the declaration
and join them in these efforts.
State of the World
For the first time in world history the human species is drastically
altering the face of the earth and the composition of its atmosphere.
Global air and water pollution, accumulation of toxic wastes,
destruction of forests, and depletion of the ozone layer threaten
the survival of humans and thousands of other living species.
The integrity of the earth, its biodiversity, and the security
of nations are at risk. These environmental changes are caused
by inequitable and unsustainable production and consumption patterns
which also aggravate poverty in many regions of the world. Moreover,
these trends are likely to worsen in the absence of societal intervention.
The U.N. World Commission on Environment and Development predicts
world population will double and economic output will increase
four- to fivefold in the next forty to fifty years.
Urgent actions by all sectors of society - government, business
and industry, private foundations, educational institutions, citizen
groups, and the general public are needed to address these fundamental
problems and reverse the trends. Stabilization of human population,
adoption of environmentally sound industrial and agricultural
technologies, reforestation, and ecological restoration are crucial
to create an equitable and sustainable future for all humankind
in harmony with nature.
Role of Universities
Universities educate most of the people who develop and manage
society's institutions. For this reason, universities bear profound
responsibilities to increase the awareness, knowledge, technologies,
and tools to create an environmentally sustainable future. Universities
have all the expertise necessary to develop the intellectual and
conceptual framework to achieve this goal. Universities must play
a strong role in the education, research, policy development,
information exchange, and community outreach to help create an
equitable and sustainable future.
Education and Training
There is a critical shortage of specialists in environmental management
and related fields. Universities must produce environmentally
literate specialists in demography, engineering, science, economics,
social sciences, health, and management, particularly for developing
A huge gap exists in the comprehension by professionals in all
fields of how their actions affect the environment and public
health. These professionals and other university graduates must
be educated to be environmentally literate and responsible citizens.
Primary and secondary school teachers must also spread environmental
awareness, literacy, and responsibility among their students.
Practicing professionals, decision-makers at major institutions,
and the general public must be given the training, expertise,
and tools to encourage environmentally sustainable actions.
Research and Policy Formation
Research on the complex interaction of human activities and the
environment - examining strategies, technologies, policies, and
institutional behavior - must be greatly expanded.Universities
must lead the effort in the rapid development of environmentally
sound technologies and the establishment of a new ethos to stabilize
population, promote the efficient and sustainable use of energy,
water, and other natural resources, repair damage, and prevent
pollution and wastes. Universities must increase anticipatory
research to identify future threats to a sustainable society,
and develop solutions to circumvent these threats.
Research on how the different types and levels of economic development
among the nations of the world impact the environment is critical
to government and industry policy formation. International cooperation
between developed and developing countries is necessary for environmentally
sustainable development strategies.
An open flow of information among all universities around the
world and, in particular, in developing countries, is crucial
to the development of new knowledge, technology, tools, and skills
for a sustainable future.
The University as a Role Model
The university is a microcosm of the larger community, and the
manner in which it carries out its daily activities is an important
demonstration of ways to achieve environmentally responsible living.
By practicing what it preaches, the university can both engage
the students in understanding the institutional metabolism of
materials and activities, and have them actively participate to
minimize pollution and waste.
The Role of University Presidents
Understanding the relationship between population, human activities,
and the environment, and developing strategies for an environmentally
sustainable future are among the most complex issues with which
society must deal. Because universities are organized into specialized
areas of knowledge and traditional disciplines, it is often difficult
to convene the necessary talent for teaching and research on these
issues. For example, earth science is approached as if the world
is a collection of separate biological and physical systems instead
of treating the biosphere as a fully integrated functioning life
system. Tenure, curriculum, and degree requirements are largely
controlled by faculty in individual schools of study. Quality
scholarship is often synonymous with originality in a single discipline,
and individual contribution is generally encouraged over team
efforts. University presidents often have a broad perspective
on global problems, but have limited say in academic direction.
However, university presidents are the only academic leaders
capable of converging all the academic disciplines and professional
schools on large, complex issues. University presidents must focus
their schools' attention on the critical issues by speaking out,
acquiring new and mobilizing existing resources, creating incentives
and programs for faculty development, and fostering interest in
University presidents must take action to focus university attention
on environment, population, and development issues. They should:
1. Use every opportunity to raise public, government, foundation,
and university awareness by publicly speaking out on the importance
of environmental concerns.
2. Seek large increases in the funding of interdisciplinary,
environmental research. Research funds are often earmarked for
traditional disciplines, resulting in the continuing compartmentalization
of problems and solutions. The funding available for research
on population, environment, and sustainable development is a tiny
fraction of that available for basic science, defense, and aerospace.
3. Encourage outstanding scholars who engage in research and
teaching on environmental topics, and help them lead other scholars
in this direction.
4. Establish programs in all major disciplines to teach about
environment, population, and sustainable development in the context
of these disciplines.
5. Work with faculty to change tenure and promotion requirements
to reward interdisciplinary work on environment, population, and
sustainable development issues.
6. Set aside funding and create positions for interdepartmental
and interschool faculty who will research and teach population,
environment, and sustainable development topics.
7. Appoint a special adviser, an environmental programs dean,
or faculty group to promote environmental programs within the
8. Encourage multidisciplinary thinking with the use of internships,
capstone and integrating seminars, work study, and case studies.
9. Establish a university environmental policy to engage faculty,
staff, administration, and students in activities such as energy
and water conservation, and recycling. Encourage vendors who supply
schools with products and services to act in an environmentally
responsible manner when manufacturing their products and delivering
10. Develop cooperative programs with universities in other countries
to promote faculty and student exchanges, collaborative research,
and education programs that develop international understanding.
11. Establish multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary structures,
such as "centers of excellence" for research, education,
and policy development within the university.
12. Establish partnerships with primary and secondary schools
to enhance the capability of their faculty in teaching about population,
environment, and sustainable development issues.
The presidents decided that these first steps must be expanded
to other universities if the world is to move down a more environmentally
sustainable path. Furthermore, they wished to establish a mechanism
to inform and support each other's efforts in these new directions.
Accordingly, they agreed to form a steering committee of university
presidents representing all regions of the world to continue and
expand these efforts. The secretariat for the group will be established
at Tufts University. The steering committee and its secretariat
will carry out the following activities:
1. Convene school deans and environmental practitioners to advance
university research, education, and policy development.
2. Explore opportunities for joint education and research projects.
3. Exchange information on programs and strategies to have more
active university involvement in population, environment, and
development research and education.
4. Work on expanding the involvement of government, industry,
and foundations in supporting university efforts in these areas.
5. Work with the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development
to promote a worldwide university effort toward a sustainable
CREATORS AND ORIGINAL SIGNATORIES
Jean Mayer, President
Tufts University, USA
Pablo Arce, Vice Chancellor
Universidad Autonoma de Centro America, Costa Rica
L. Ayo Banjo, Vice Chancellor
University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Boonrod Binson, Chancellor
Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Robert W. Charlton, Vice Chancellor & Principal
University of Witwatersrand, Union of South Africa
Constantine W. Curris, President
University of Northern Iowa, USA
Michele Gendreau-Massaloux, Rector
L'Academie de Paris, France
Mario Ojeda Gomez, President
El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico
Adamu Nayaya Mohammed, Vice Chancellor
Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
Augusto Frederico Muller, President
Fundacao Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, Brazil
Calvin H. Plimpton, President Emeritus
American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Wesley Posvar, President
University of Pittsburgh, USA
T. Navaneeth Rao, Vice Chancellor
Osmania University, India
Moonis Raza, Vice Chancellor Emeritus
University of New Delhi, India
Pavel D. Sarkisov, Rector
Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology, Russia
Stuart Saunders, Vice Chancellor & Principal
University of Cape Town, Union of South Africa
Akilagpa Sawyerr, Vice Chancellor
University of Ghana, Ghana
Carlos Vogt, President
Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil
David Ward, Vice Chancellor
University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Xide Xie, President Emeritus
Fudan University, People's Republic of China
Director, International Chamber of Commerce
Chairman, Earth Island Institute
San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Vice Rector, Universite de Geneve
Senior Advisor/Director, United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development
Margarita Marino de Botero
Founder, Colegio Verde de Villa de Leyva--The
Clovis Nobre de Miranda
Full Professor, Universidade Federal de Mato
Former Chairman, President's Council on
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.
Secretary General, United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development
Natalia P. Tarasova
Professor, D.I. Mendeleev Institute of Chemical
Professor, Central American Management
Alajuela, Costa Rica
Dr. Anthony D. Cortese
Dean of Environmental Programs
Office of Development