Sustainable development in the University of Eastern Finland
On these pages you will find information about sustainable development activities in our university. Sustainable development activities are coordinated and organized in univeristy level by university's Advisory Board on Sustainable Development and Quality coordinator, on faculty level by persons responsible of quality work and in teaching by teachers. University is cooperating also with Student Union and Fazer Amica, who is responsible of univeristy restaurants. You can find more information about Sustainable Development on these pages under Green Office's page Environmental Policy and there Green Office Cooperation Agreement.
Sustainable Development show also in university's strategy. In its strategy for 2015–2020, http://www.uef.fi/strategia, the university has identified four global challenges that are closely linked to sustainable development. The university seeks to find interdisciplinary solutions to these challenges through its research and education.The global challenges are:
• Ageing, lifestyles and health
• Learning in a digitised society
• Cultural encounters, mobilities and borders
• Environmental change and sufficiency of natural resources
The university's research and education are expected to be able to build a responsible and sustainable future.
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. One of the most important things to consider is the sustainable use of natural resources.
In English-language literature, the term sustainable development is often used interchangeably with the term sustainability.
Sustainable development was first defined in 1987, when the United Nations released the report of theBrundtland Commission.
According to the definition of Gro Harlem Brundtland, "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio de Janeiro. The aim of the conference was to agree on sustainable development so that economic and social development would be adapted to the framework imposed by natural resources, thus preserving nature and the preconditions for human life also for the future generations.
Environmental sustainability requires for human activities to observe the capacity limits of nature in order not to compromise biodiversity or the functioning of ecosystems. Energy production poses a major challenge for environmental sustainability, as 90% of the world's energy production is based on fossil fuels. Environmentally efficient energy production solutions are based on savings in renewable and non-renewable natural resources and cutting down on emissions. A central aspect of environmental sustainability is the adoption of production and consumption habits that cause less load on the environment than the traditional ones.
Social sustainability is built around respect for human life and dignity. Social sustainability can be manifested, for example, through equality, justice and solidarity. In a socially sustainable society, citizens have the possibility to influence decision-making that has relevance for their lives. It also promotes integration into society and prevents social exclusion. Social sustainability calls for assuming responsibility for the gradual inclusion in the community that respects equality of all people whose lives are affected by one's own activities either directly or indirectly.
Economic sustainability is not based on incurring of debts or careless spending of material or immaterial resources. For example, climate change can be seen as a consequence of unsustainable economic development. Economic sustainability is founded on the coexistence of economic life and nature. Efficient use of natural resources, energy efficiency of production processes and recyclability of products are all examples of economic sustainability.
For additional definitions for the above concepts, see the website of Finland's environmental administration.
Corporate social responsibility refers to the responsibility of organisations for their decisions and activities on society and the environment, and to the observance of this responsibility through transparent and ethically sound activities which:
• promote sustainable development, health and social well-being;
• take the expectations of stakeholders into consideration;
• follow the applicable laws and international codes of conduct; and
• are integrated into the activities of the entire organisation and implemented while taking into consideration the other actors involved.