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The implementation of environmental management towards sustainable universities and education for sustainable development as an ethical imperative

Angelo Nicolaides (School of Tourism and Hospitality, Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 1 October 2006




To show that the practices, processes and resources for the management of the university environment should be aligned to meet the ever‐growing demands of sustainability and its motivations should be clearly spelt out to all stakeholders. Universities should also strive to become leaders in the development of effective environmental programmes and work to overcome the barriers that may exist in this regard.


The general focus of this inquiry was based on the qualitative research paradigm. Information was gathered from a wide variety of formats, both printed and online databases which was used to build a foundation for analysis, consideration, description, explanation and prediction. It is maintained that universities – which arguably have played a significant role in bringing mankind to its current position – must practice, demonstrate and educate on the path to sustainability.


Effective environmental management systems (EMSs), must be adopted so as to manage and assess a university's impacts on the environment and education for sustainable development (ESD) should become common practice in all higher education institutions.

Practical implications

Two of the most essential tools for achieving sustainability are undoubtedly policy and education. In this regard, a number of universities across the globe have signed accords that partly make them responsible for adapting their curricula so that students in all faculties become conversant with issues of sustainability. A concerted effort to create public awareness and to educate and train about the concept of sustainability is necessary in the programme of a university which is concerned about the environment.


Unfortunately, many higher education signatories to international agreements on sustainability, while purporting to be concerned about environmental issues are in essence not implementing measures quickly enough. This paper fulfils the need of sensitizing higher education institutions to the need for action on environmental issues and builds on previous knowledge. A knowledge of environmental consequences should be fostered urgently by universities and there should be a firm commitment on the part of the hierarchies in a university to assume more responsible approaches to the management of environmental performance enhancement, which is also a non‐negotiable.



Nicolaides, A. (2006), "The implementation of environmental management towards sustainable universities and education for sustainable development as an ethical imperative", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 414-424.



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