COPERNICUS – new environmental policy at UiO

The Hedda blog would like to congratulate the University of Oslo for putting more focus on environmental issues: the decades long passive COPERNICUS signatory status is now finally incorporated into actual policy. However, introducing a new policy is only the first step in the process, and we hope that this new policy will result in concrete action as well. Hedda guest blogger Maryam Faghihimani has written a brief introduction of the initiative.

The CRE COPERNICUS Charter for Sustainable Development was introduced by the Co-operation Program in Europe for Research on Nature and Industry through Coordinated University Studies (COPERNICUS), an organization established by the Association of European Universities (CRE)* in 1988. It was a follow-up on previous sustainability declarations and the UN Agenda 21 to further the efforts of universities with regards to sustainability. The Charter was presented to over 500 universities in 38 countries. By 1994, 213 European universities’ rectors had signed the Charter and the number increased to 328 in 2006.

University of Oslo has been among signatories of the Charter for some time now, however, it was only in 2011 it was taken into consideration when developing university policies. Since the new leadership team has taken the office, sustainability (and in particular environmental sustainability) has been underlined as one of the core agendas of the university. In a progressive move, UiO has set up COPERNICUS Charter as Environmental and Sustainability policy of the University of Oslo.

The COPERNICUS Charter stresses on a new set of environmental values within higher education institutions and encourages universities to be pioneers in creating a sustainable and just society. The Charter puts focus on sustainability in the various dimensions and functions of universities, such as governance, education, research, operation and outreach. The main highlights of the Charter are institutional commitment, developing environmental ethics, environmental literacy and interdisciplinary programs, disseminating environmental knowledge and technology transfer, public outreach, networking and partnership.

The University of Oslo aims at demonstrating real commitment to the principle and practice of environmental protection and sustainable development within the academic milieu in various dimensions.

* In 2001, Association of European Universities (CRE) and the Confederation of European Union Rectors’ Conferences were merged together to form European University Association (EUA).