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The University of Amsterdam (UvA) has a crucial responsibility in accelerating sustainable change in society. This goes beyond making our own operational management more sustainable. As a university, we are at the forefront of scientific and social innovations in the field of sustainability and are educating the new generations of experts and leaders.

In order to structurally implement sustainability in our teaching, research and operational management and to increase our contribution, we have formulated five goals accompanied by concrete actions. These goals and actions are described in detail in the white paper on sustainability and have been selected on the basis of the previously drafted green paper on sustainability and in consultation with the academic community, partly by means of three round table sessions and denkmee.uva.nl.

Jan Lintsen, member of the UvA Executive Board, is proud of the publication of the white paper: ‘As a comprehensive university, we have unique opportunities to contribute to sustainability. The white paper on sustainability gives us a concrete and broadly supported plan to make the most of these opportunities.’

A summary of the five objectives

1. Towards a fair ecological footprint: 25% reduction in five years

Over the next five years, we will reduce our ecological footprint by 25%. Among other things, we will achieve this by making our buildings more sustainable, collecting ICT equipment, reducing paper consumption and banning unnecessary waste, such as disposable water bottles. This will allow us to bring our operational management in line with our knowledge of the ecological capacity of the planet. In 2021, we will also invest 6.8 million euros in energy-saving measures. Until 2050, we will be investing an additional 76 million euros to make our campuses Paris Proof, in addition to the funds already reserved.

2. The UvA has an active sustainability community

Networking is essential for an overarching theme like sustainability. We will only be able to enhance each other if we know what we are all working on. This is why we are setting up more physical meeting places that focus on sustainability, such as the Sustainalab at the Science Park, and strengthening the Green Office. We also organise a major conference on sustainability every two years.

3. All degree programmes pay appropriate attention to sustainability

Increasing sustainability is not just a task for sustainability specialists and concerned consumers; it concerns us all. Therefore we ensure that the curriculum of all our students focuses on sustainability in relation to their own field of study. As professionals, they will later be able to contribute from their own specialism while retaining a broad view as a result.

4. At the UvA, all students can develop and specialise to become pioneers in sustainability

No issue is more relevant to tomorrow's leaders and specialists than sustainability. As a result, everyone at the UvA must be able to develop into and specialise as a pioneer in the field of sustainability. We therefore offer the choice of at least two minors and a wide range of electives that focus on green sustainability.

5. We contribute to a sustainable world through our research

Alongside education, research and the utilisation of knowledge are the biggest levers we have to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society. We are therefore stimulating research into green sustainability by providing extra funds, as well as asking all researchers to seek out where green sustainability touches on existing institute activities and to work on the available opportunities.

Read the white paper on sustainability (PDF, 19 pp.) and the appendix (PDF, 12 pp.) with more information on the actions in terms of operational management.