New sustainability alliance builds worldwide ties

July 14 / 140

University sustainability leaders attended the Inaugural Conference of the Green Alliance of Universities for a Sustainable Future (GAUSF) to share sustainability ideas and build links to universities across the globe.

The conference was a sub-forum of the 2014 Eco Forum Global in Guiyang, capital of China’s Guizhou province.

Its focuses were to establish the mission of the GAUSF, examine universities as incubators of sustainable development and to study present and future eco-friendly development in Guizhou from a global perspective.

University attendees were Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Simon Evans, Deputy Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) John Wiseman and Professor Deli Chen from the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences.

Professor Wiseman said universities play a three-fold role in the maintenance of a sustainable society: innovation and the development of new ideas and inventions through research, teaching and involvement of students in sustainability, and by engaging with communities, governments and business to translate this knowledge into action.

Universities must also lead society by ensuring their campuses are examples of sustainability.

Professor Wiseman said that the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute combined these roles across the University.

 “Its role is to bring together researchers and students across disciplines to conduct research and translate ideas through teaching and engagement to improve sustainability outcomes,” he said.

Professor Evans said the alliance presents Melbourne researchers and students to collaborate with longstanding University partners including GAUSF founder and convener Peking University and Tsinghua University from China, Edinburgh University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Freie Universität Berlin.

 “There are significant opportunities to develop deep research collaborations with all the members of the Alliance – and to create opportunities for students to connect with their counterparts from around the globe,” he said. 

Professor Wiseman said there were many opportunities for the University to collaborate and build links with other GAUSF institutions, particularly in the movement towards a zero-carbon economy and the development of sustainable cities and agriculture. 

Professor Chen addressed the necessity of a balance between food security and sustainability in his presentation to the conference.

Professor Wiseman noted the importance of forming sustainability connections with China.

“The senior Chinese people there strongly emphasised the centrality of sustainability – what they call eco-civilisation – as a central priority for the future of China, and indeed for the world,” he said.

“There’s real opportunity to build on that foundation.”

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