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History of Sustainability at York University

Keele Campus
Keele Campus, 1958

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Arbour Day 2004

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Cherry
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York University President, Lorna Marsden, made a commitment to sustainable development by commissioning the 2001 President's Taskforce on Sustainability for Keele campus.1 The Taskforce undertook an audit of Keele campus and made recommendations for campus sustainability in regards to energy, water, waste, land use planning, biodiversity, transportation, buildings, curricula, green enterprises and outreach to the local community. It also recommended the signing of the Talloires Declaration as an important action.2

The declaration is a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. It has been signed by more than 300 university presidents and chancellors in over 40 countries.

Recently, new initiatives such as a new purchasing policy, and energy management strategies for the campus are part of a consortium of potential future advancements. These fall in line with the UN's Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

This decade, being led by the United Nations Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), involves universities playing a central role in achieving the following proposed objectives:

  1. Giving an enhanced profile to the central role of education and learning in the common pursuit of sustainable development;
  2. Facilitating links and networking, exchange and interaction among stakeholders in ESD;
  3. Providing a space and opportunity for refining and promoting the vision of, and transition to sustainable development - through all forms of learning and public awareness;

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York University is situated in the Canadian municipality with the largest ecological foot print. This "footprint" refers to "the amount of space or the environment necessary to produce the goods and services needed to support a particular lifestyle." Glossary, www.isye.gatech.edu/3

"Facilities Services is beginning a renewed energy management program with the intention of becoming more sustainable in its energy use. Working with a private sector partner, Facilities Services will be making changes to heating, cooling and lighting systems throughout the campus to make buildings more efficient and ultimately more comfortable. A significant aspect of the energy management project is public awareness of, and education about, sustainability initiatives and actions."4

 

 


1 Composed in 1990 at an international conference in Talloires, France, this is the first official statement made by university administrators of a commitment to environmental sustainability in higher education. The Talloires Declaration (TD) is a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. It has been signed by over 300 university presidents and chancellors in over 40 countries (ULSF. Retrieved April 17, 2005, from http://www.ulsf.org/programs_talloires.html)

2 Report of the President's Task Force on Sustainability York University Retrieved April 9, 2005, from http://www.yorku.ca/president/initiatives/Sustainability_final_report.pdf

3 University Leaders for a Sustainable Future. Retrieved September 3, 2005, from http://www.ulsf.org/programs_talloires.html

4 UN DESD Objectives and Strategies. Retrieved April 9, 2005, from website.unesco.org
 

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