Robert Ashcroft
4 December 2015

IES signs open letter to COP21 from alliance of universities and colleges

Universities can discover and test potential mitigation and adaptation strategies, whilst equipping their graduates with the skills to tackle the threats posed by climate change.

At COP21 of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this week, the voice of universities and networks of Higher Education Institutions is being heard. During the conference this week, COP21 President Laurent Fabius will be presented with an Open Letter on behalf of a Global Alliance of networks and associations which represent more than 10,000 universities and colleges worldwide. The Institution of Environmental Sciences, which takes a strong interest in Higher and Further Education through our education committee, CHES, is proud to be one of the signatories to this letter.

In the letter to COP21 Ministers and negotiators, governments are urged to acknowledge and strengthen the research and education role that universities and colleges play in finding and implementing solutions towards climate change mitigation and adaptation, placing it in the context of addressing wider issues of sustainability, including social and economic policies and practices.

The letter also proposes more specific measures to be implemented, such as showcasing universities and colleges as living laboratories for climate change adaptation and mitigation, increasing support for transdisciplinary learning, teaching and research approaches and using university and college campuses and operations as a leverage agent to accelerate the transition to clean energy sources.

Adam Donnan, IES CEO, commented:

"As our recent journal on the impact of environmental science research showcased, the university sector has a vital role to play in helping us understand the natural world and the impact of human activities upon it.  University research can influence policy, business and society to minimise these impacts and help sustain a world in which humanity can flourish. This is particularly vital in the field of climatology. Universities - through their teaching and research, their partnerships with external bodies, and through using campuses as 'living laboratories' - can discover and test potential mitigation and adaptation strategies, whilst equipping their graduates with the skills to tackle the threats posed by climate change."

Download the open letter, and a full list of signatories (pdf)