organizations with a significant commitment to making sustainability
a major focus of higher education hereby agree to form a "Global
Higher Education for Sustainability Partnership (GHESP),"
COPERNICUS Programme of the Association of European Universities
International Association of Universities (IAU),
Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF),
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
four founding partners of the initiative will combine strengths
in an effort to mobilize universities and higher education institutions
to support sustainable development:
is responsible for the University Charter for Sustainable Development,
signed to date by 281 university heads in 36 European countries;
provides an international centre of cooperation among 700 member
universities and organizations of higher education institutions
that have formally endorsed the Kyoto Declaration;
serves as the Secretariat of the 280 signatories of the Talloires
Declaration in over 40 countries and promotes education for
sustainability based on the Earth Charter;
is the task manager for the implementation of Chapter 36 of
Agenda 21 ("Education, Public Awareness and Training")
and for the international work programme on education of the
United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, as well
as the convenor in 1998 of the World Conference on Higher Education,
both of which have called for the renewal of higher education
to address the complex societal challenges of the 21st century.
rationale for the partnership is the consensus that higher education
must play a central role within the overall process of achieving
sustainable development. The partners are convinced that if the
leaders of major disciplines and institutions do not make sustainability
a central academic and organizational focus, it will be impossible
to create a just, equitable, and sustainable future. This includes
the generation of knowledge through science and research, policy-making,
capacity-building, and technology transfer. It is critical that
higher education institutions understand their responsibility
within a broader context of social and economic development, and
the building of democratic, equitable and ecologically sound societies.
is an urgent need to conduct an overall assessment of progress
towards sustainability in higher education. This is particularly
relevant since a ten-year review and assessment will be undertaken
for the major event to be organized by the United Nations in 2002,
ten years after the Rio Conference (Rio + 10). The partners consider
that such a global assessment can best be achieved through collaboration
among organizations and higher education institutions actively
involved in sustainability issues.
objectives of the partnership are to:
1. Promote better understanding of, and more effective implementation
of, strategies for the incorporation of sustainability in universities
and other higher education institutions, beginning with signatories
to the charters and declarations sponsored by the partner organizations.
Undertake a global review and assessment of progress in making
sustainability central to curriculum, research, outreach and operations
in institutions of higher education, and, in so doing, assist
UNESCO in its role within the UN system in contributing to the
preparation of Rio + 10, as well as contribute to the follow-up
of the World Conference on Higher Education.
Identify and share effective strategies, models and best practices
for promoting higher education for sustainability; and analyze
experience thus far, with a view to making recommendations based
on these studies in consultation with key stakeholders from both
North and South, including business, governments, and other UN
bodies such as the United Nations University (UNU), as well as
other relevant non-governmental organizations.
Demonstrate that it is possible to form a partnership of non-governmental
organizations working closely with the UN system to develop and
implement a joint action plan addressed to achieving common goals;
and analyze and evaluate this experience as an international demonstration
order to achieve the objectives outlined above, the partners will
undertake a number of collaborative activities, such as international
consultations and conferences, good practices inventories, models
for sustainable universities, publications and websites. In addition,
the partners shall seek to develop and disseminate, by the end
of 2002, an action-oriented Higher Education for Sustainability
Implementation Strategy and Inventory of Available Resources.
This will be intended for use by the some 1000 universities committed
to the three charters and declarations developed by the partners.
This material will also be of relevance and made available to
the world's thousands of universities and other institutions of
IAU and ULSF will each draw on its own experience and on-going
work to help advance the goals of the partnership. The role of
UNESCO is primarily to: act as facilitator for the collaborative
work of the partners; provide further international context and
input; and make use of and promote the outputs of the group to
further innovation and international cooperation in this field.
partnership shall take effect upon signing by all parties of this
Memorandum of Understanding and shall remain in effect until 31
December 2002. At that time, the composition and continuation
of the partnership shall be reviewed based on an evaluation of
the achievements made.
implementing the Memorandum of Understanding, the following activities
To review and assess the role of higher education for sustainable
development: Hold conferences, undertake research, commission
papers for publication, and produce official statements and recommendations.
To develop higher education for sustainability implementation
strategies: Help universities and other higher education institutions
more effectively implement sustainability initiatives by producing
a higher education for sustainable development (HESD) action-oriented
handbook for universities, managers, administrators, faculty and
To create an electronic network supported by an internet discussion
forum: Support the review process on strategies, models and best
practices and allow the debate and sharing of information to continue
To develope HESD best practice learning workshops: Design and
support workshops within universities and colleges and assist
them in implementing HESD.
To organize a Global Seminar on Sustainable Development: Develop
a virtual seminar open to all universities and other higher education
institutions worldwide to cover timely and relevant sustainable
development issues on an ongoing basis.
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