UN recognises universities leading sustainability

This year's GUPES Green Gown Awards Winner was Chiba University in Japan

The United Nations Environment Programme and the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability have announced Chiba University, Japan, as this year’s GUPES Green Gown Awards winner.

The University won for its international Environmental and Energy Management Systems, organised by a student-led committee. The committee has had a key role in drafting environmental objectives and plans for the University, disseminating knowledge to students and staff, internally auditing the faculties, and editing environmental reports. In addition, the students carry out various activities such as making posters, holding eco classes for young children, making community gardens, holding a book market, and much more. Students say that operating the management systems has given them great opportunities to learn about environmental problems and practical business affairs.

Professor Haruaki Nakaya, Vice President for Planning and Personnel Affairs, said: “As a manager of the University I highly value this project not only for its substantial effects, such as reducing environmental burdens and expenses of the University, but also for effectiveness demonstrated on the educational side – the main job of a university.”

In other categories, a collective of five universities in Switzerland won the Highly Commended Award for Sustainability Week Zurich (SWZ), the largest student-run sustainability project in the country. Over the past five years more than 300 students from five universities and 10 campuses in Zurich have organised over 160 events, attracting over 15,000 visitors.

“Universities are a rich source of innovation, commitment and passion for a sustainable future of people and planet in harmony.”

SWZ’s achievements include directly contributing to the creation of a sustainability delegate position at the University of Zurich, prompting the Vice-Chancellor to allocate funds for a sustainability report. It has also helped initiate discussions about reducing University airplane emissions.

Michael Hengartner, President, University of Zurich says: “We are proud to support the efforts of our students to bring more sustainability to Swiss universities and their communities. This prize will honour their successful volunteer engagement and strong commitment to a more sustainable and just future.”

The GUPES Green Gown Awards is a joint initiative supported by the United Nations Environment (UNE) and the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), expanding the awards across the globe with an emphasis on recognising and sharing successes for sustainability. Winners from each global region are automatically entered into the International Green Gown Awards contest, with the ceremony taking place on 16 May 2018 in Marseille.

Monika MacDevette, Deputy Director, Ecosystems Division, United Nations Environment, said: “Universities are a rich source of innovation, commitment and passion for a sustainable future of people and planet in harmony. The GUPES Green Gown Awards showcase this and provide a source of inspiration and can-do spirit that the UN Environment Programme applauds and celebrates.”

Further details on the GUPES Green Gown Awards winners can be found at http://www.greengownawards.org/gupes-green-gown-awards