Campus communities have the opportunity to showcase thought leadership on sustainability

Green Campus Summit 2013 gets underway this week. We spoke with Organizing Committee Chairman, Mr. Nandhivarman Muthu, about the pivotal role that educational institutions can play in progressing sustainable development.

This week, the Green Campus Summit will see hundreds of representatives from educational institutions across the globe convene at Pondicherry to discuss ways to implement and proliferate ideas around sustainable development within the world of academia. Mr. Nandhivarman Muthu from the Association for Promoting Sustainability in Campuses and Communities spoke to RESET about the upcoming summit, outlining the role that educational institutions can play at the forefront of sustainability by championing and commissioning research and innovation and introducing tailored, sustainability-based curriculum.

Why do you feel it is important to set up this summit in 2013?

Today, more than ever before, institutions of developed countries have the policy climate, participatory governance, community support and technology innovation to remain at the leading edge of the Green Campus revolution. However, in the developing regions of the world, it is very common to see that due importance is not meted out to increase the sustainability quotient of their campus. It is against this background, and in order to facilitate the knowledge dissemination and connect the campuses between developing and developed regions that this summit is being organized in India in 2013 and will continue to be organized in the forthcoming years as well.

Why do you think it is important to concentrate on sustainability on campuses?

Being centers of learning, various factors of education lie at the heart of promoting changes in the human behavior. Moreover the campus communities have the opportunity to showcase thought leadership on sustainability by solving pressing issues pertaining to their local environment and addressing challenges [that] the societies face as a whole. One of the core agendas for sustainability on campuses is to engage the campus communities for outreach activities thereby propagating sustainability beyond the campus boundaries.

How did the Association for promoting Sustainability in Campuses and Communities (APSCC) from Puducherry, Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” (RCE) from Hamburg and the Centre for International Business and Sustainability (CIBS) from London Met University come together to realize this summit?

Prof. Walter Leal Filho, head of RCE and CIBS was the inspiration behind this event in India. I also would like to thank the Pondicherry University and Government of Puducherry for their encouragement and support to move forward with this initiative.

What are some of the key areas where educational institutions can contribute to sustainable development?

The real problem that humanity faces today in achieving sustainable development is how to empower and motivate people to change their underlying behaviors and actions. For example, one has to be motivated to consume less energy, to conserve and reuse water, to limit the use of non-renewable resources, to conserve biodiversity, to contribute to the advancement of the society as a whole and much more. Educational institutions should come forward to contribute and undertake action research projects, create awareness, connect with communities, collaborate with other institutions and civil society to undertake sustainable initiatives and outreach activities.

What are some of the key challenges facing educational institutions when it comes to implementing sustainable practices?

Some of the key challenges that are faced by the institutions are project and research funding, technology transfer, policy climate and local environmental conditions.

In your opinion, does curriculum need to be adapted in order to engage students in sustainable development? Have you seen any examples where this has been successfully carried out?

Definitely, curriculum should be adapted [in order] to make comprehensive progress towards sustainable development. Even the definition of the term sustainable development has evolved over the years since it was first popularized and the core curriculum should also be adapted right from the school to higher education and universities, reflecting recent knowledge on the principles of sustainable

Are there any institutions that you find demonstrate especially innovative ideas on climate policy, community support or technology initiatives?

Though it is hard to name them, there are several institutions from across the globe who demonstrates innovative ideas who also happen to be participating in the summit to disseminate their ideas to a wider network and help propagate further research and innovation.

Are you hoping to continue these summits in the future?

Yes, of course, the APSCC team will continue to organize this series of summit in the future in collaboration with academia/universities.

Green Campus Summit 2013 is taking place at Anandha Inn in Pondicherry from April 04-05. Find out more at their website.

RESET is a media partner of the event.