IARU Statement on Sustainability
The International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), comprising 11 universities from five continents, is committed to providing leadership on sustainability that will enhance our campuses and the respective communities of our institutions as well as encourage engagement by others at an international level. We are convinced that there is a moral imperative to take action on climate change and sustainable development. There is also an unparalleled opportunity for our institutions to illuminate pathways for transition to a more sustainable future.
In 2015 world leaders agreed to both the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and to the new climate change accord in Paris at COP 21. These milestones in our history give cause for reflection on the role of universities, and in particular how the 11 IARU institutions might contribute to the pressing global priorities of our time. Universities measure success in terms of teaching, research, impact, and service, rather than financial or political gains. As such, we are uniquely suited to support, test, and enhance work that is done by governments, the private sector, and the United Nations. By virtue of being a small network with a long history and aligned sustainability priorities, our alliance has the capacity to offer high-caliber contributions to the global dialogue on sustainability.
In the ten years since the alliance formed, our institutions have made real headway: We have each made progress on our greenhouse gas reduction commitments, our curricular offerings related to sustainable development have grown significantly, and our campuses are becoming living laboratories for sustainability. As an alliance, we benefit from the shared knowledge and joint efforts and we are committed to enabling universities worldwide benefit from this. With collective support from our leadership, faculty, staff, and students, we have developed a robust dialogue that considers the connections of operations with teaching and research, and the financial and social implications of sustainability.
IARU as an alliance is committed to leadership academically and operationally. We will ensure that our universities prosper and thrive in a way that is not just sustainable, but also promises to enhance the resilience of our communities and the world. We will continue to explore sustainability solutions in distinct cultural contexts and inside and outside of the classroom. We recognize that our efforts may not always lead to success, but testing the boundaries and taking intellectual risks is a critical role that universities can play, as each venture will involve opportunities to learn and grow. We will continue to offer guidance and opportunities to non-IARU institutions on this shared journey toward a resilient and healthy future.
Our aim for the next ten years is to move beyond best practices to transformative change. This will be a rich and iterative journey that will engage students, faculty, staff, community members, alumni, peer institutions, and partners. And finally, as higher education institutions the most critical outcome we can offer in this context is a fresh generation of change-leaders.