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Statement by the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative

(Rio de Janeiro, 20 June 2012) – The following declaration was issued today at Rio Centro regarding an announcement by more than 250 higher education institutions in support of sustainable development.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon mentioned the HEI Declaration in his Remarks to General Assembly on outcome of Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

For a complete list of universities and colleges joining this "Rio Group" of educational institutions, see and view the Summary of Voluntary Commitments.

The initiative is convened by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations University, the UN Global Compact, the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Welcoming the launch by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other partners of the Higher Education Initiative for Sustainable Development, Rossen Plevneliev, President of Bulgaria, said that there must be a fundamental change in thinking.


As Chancellors, Presidents, Rectors, Deans and Leaders of Higher Education Institutions and related organizations, we acknowledge the responsibility that we bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development. On the occasion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro from 20-22 June 2012, we agree to support the following actions:

  • Teach sustainable development concepts, ensuring that they form a part of the core curriculum across all disciplines so that future higher education graduates develop skills necessary to enter sustainable development workforces and have an explicit understanding of how to achieve a society that values people, the planet and profits in a manner that respects the finite resource boundaries of the earth. Higher Education Institutions are also encouraged to provide sustainability training to professionals and practitioners;
  • Encourage research on sustainable development issues, to improve scientific understanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of knowledge, including new and innovative technologies.
  • Green our campuses by: i) reducing the environmental footprint through energy, water and material resource efficiencies in our buildings and facilities; ii) adopting sustainable procurement practices in our supply chains and catering services; iii) providing sustainable mobility options for students and faculty; iv) adopting effective programmes for waste minimization, recycling and reuse, and v) encouraging more sustainable lifestyles.
  • Support sustainability efforts in the communities in which we reside, working with local authorities and civil society to foster more liveable, resource-efficient communities that are socially inclusive and have small environmental footprints.
  • Engage with and share results through international frameworks, such as the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, led by UNESCO, the UN University system, the UN Global Compact, the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative and the UN Environment Programme's Environmental Education and Training initiatives, in order to exchange knowledge and experiences and to report regularly on progress and challenges.


Jonas Haertle
Head, PRME Secretariat
UN Global Compact
+1 917 515 9979

Tim Wall
Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, 15 - 18 June, Rio de Janeiro
+1 213 447 5954

20 Jun 2012

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