Saturday, February 03, 2007

American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment

Greenland has been busy gearing up and helping out with the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (PCC). This is an exciting initiative galvanizing college & university presidents in the US and Canada to commit their institutions to the goal of climate neutrality. We hope to have 200 institutions sign the commitment by June 2007, and at least 1,000 by 2009.

Working closely with Second Nature, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and ecoAmerica, Greenland is facilitating the process of making the commitment for Presidents and others at their institutions.

To date 54 institutions have made the commitment and 34 have agreed to join the Leadership Circle. Members of the Leadership Circle will assist in recruiting more signatories, and will send out an invitation to over 4,000 institutions.

Higher Education is a key leverage point in the move towards a sustainable society for many reasons. First, they are large institutions, and as such, like most organizations today, emit a lot of greenhouse gases, both directly and indirectly. Also, in the US it is $320 billion per year industry, which means it is a potentially market-moving force. When these institutions make the commitment, and put their purchasing power towards more sustainable alternatives, this will bring down the costs of these technologies for everyone.

More importantly, research institutions use this commitment to leverage new innovations, create new solutions, and put into practice many of the theoretical ideas that are already being explored.

But it is on the educational side that I think this initiative has the most potential. The problems around greenhouse gas emissions, and unsustainability more generally require transdiciplinary learning create solutions and move towards a sustainable society. By infusing these ideas into the curriculum at higher education institutions, where our best and brightest can dig into them, we give ourselves hope that the next generation of societal leaders will be able to carry on and improve upon the good work that has been done to date in the effort to create a sustainable society.

The framework for strategic sustainable development is designed to facilitate transdisciplinary learning and co-creation of solutions across sectors, industries and specializations. Hopefully, the PCC is another early step in the process of breaking through the thick walls of disciplinary compartmentalization, so we have a better chance of understanding one another and the root causes of unsustainability in an increasingly complex world.

Check out more about the Presidents Climate Commitment here: www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org.

For more info on sustainability in education (mostly higher education), check out the expanded list of links and resources to the right under “Sustainabiilty Education”. Stay going.

5 comments:

kate said...

Dude! Love your blog, though it's going to take me some time to read it all...you've been at this awhile, and regularly, haven't you-?
Just wanted to mention that on the biofuels links side, you might want to add: www.bioenergywiki.net. Some fairly important players seem to be using this, though you wouldn't necessarily know it just yet. Who knows where it's going.
All for now! Keep it up. Yours, Kate

J.J. Bish said...

I have begun to wonder if "sustainable" is really the right term to represent the ethic/philosophy that underlies it.

I think the sustainability movement needs to begin to consider the idea of NOURISHMENT as an organizing principle.

I have begun to contribute at:

http://nourishnotsustain.blogspot.com/

Georges said...

kate - thx for the link, and great to check out what you've been up to. hope all's well, best to Walker.

j.j. bish - i think you're right that the word "sustainability" is not very inspiring, and nourishment is more so. It is very important, as you point out, to understand that sustainability is just the act of not being unsustainable. This is why sustainability principles (as developed by The Natural Step) are useful - they lay out the 'basic constraints' of the system. I think by keeping "sustainability" in mind as the bare-minimum we need to achieve to give ourselves a chance of on-going survival, we can more effectively focus on what it means to nourish, how to evaluate our actions so we can be as sure as possible that they are nourishing, etc. The 'free creativity' of nourishing within the constraints of sustainability (i.e. not-unsustainability) can be a powerful combination.

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