Sustainability as a strategic priority


TU/e states in its institutional plan for 2025 that universities should lead rather than follow in the challenges and transition to a more sustainable society. In addition, TU/e defines two other challenges that universities should lead on: the technical revolution and impact of technology. Sustainability is thus one of the three challenges. To what extent does TU/e as an institution take the lead in meeting challenges regarding sustainability?

Sustainable development was defined by the UN in 1987 as developments that can fulfill the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. At the moment we do not live in a world where we are realizing this, you can't ignore that. Not surprising, that an educational institution with the potential to have great impact on society expresses its desire to take the lead in this challenge. 

There is a lot of research being done at TU/e focused on sustainable development, ranging from sustainable mobility to sustainable architecture and sustainable chemical processes. The launch of institutes like EIRES also contributes to this. In addition, there are services such as Real Estate that also place an increased emphasis on sustainability.

But when you look at the annual goals, the 'deliverables' that the Executive Board sets for  TU/e, sustainability is virtually absent. Things are happening in the research branch, but taking the lead in this subject for the own organization can still be improved. I found this quite amazing: that you place sustainability as one of your three big challenges to take the lead in but that you hardly see anything of it back in the annual plans.

For that reason, I think it would be good to include sustainability in the list of strategic priorities for TU/e. There are currently 17 of them; examples are regional cooperation and diversity & inclusion. Not a crazy idea when you state that it is one of the three big challenges that universities have to lead on. In my opinion, the focus should not only be on impact by doing research and teaching, but especially on the transition to a sustainable organization. Set a date as a university when you want to be carbon neutral, and think about how you want to get there.

With sustainability as a strategic priority, deliverables focused on sustainability are set up on an annual basis. Effort is put into where these annual goals should eventually bring TU/e. The extent to which these goals are achieved is carefully checked and evaluated each year. By doing this, you as a university can therefore create governance on this topic.  

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