International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 11 April 2008



(2008), "News", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 9 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: News From: International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Volume 9, Issue 2.

American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment

As of October 2007, over 400 presidents and chancellors of US colleges and universities had signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Initiated by a group of college and university presidents in Fall 2006, the ACUPCC is a high-visibility effort to address global warming that commits institutions to climate neutrality as soon as possible and an acceleration in research and educational efforts to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate. The web site provides information on the commitment, signatories to date, implementation strategies, and other frequently asked questions.

Further details are available at:

Oregon State launches first ecological engineering degree in US

Oregon State University has launched the first undergraduate degree program in ecological engineering in the USA. The new degree, offered through OSU's Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, will accommodate approximately 100 students. Ecological engineers combine basic and applied science from engineering, ecology, economics, and natural sciences for the restoration and construction of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Further details are available at:

Planet's tougher problems persist, UN report warns

The United Nations Environment Programme says that major threats to the planet such as climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the many that remain unresolved, and all of them put humanity at risk.

The warning comes in UNEP's Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4) report published 20 years after the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) produced its seminal report, Our Common Future.

GEO-4, the latest in UNEP's series of flagship reports, assesses the current state of the global atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, describes the changes since 1987, and identifies priorities for action. GEO-4 is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment, prepared by about 390 experts and reviewed by more than 1,000 others across the world.

It salutes the world's progress in tackling some relatively straightforward problems, with the environment now much closer to mainstream politics everywhere. But despite these advances, there remain the harder-to-manage issues, the “persistent” problems. Here, GEO-4 says: “There are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable.”

Failure to address these persistent problems, UNEP says, may undo all the achievements so far on the simpler issues, and may threaten humanity's survival. But it insists: “The objective is not to present a dark and gloomy scenario, but an urgent call for action.”

UC Berkeley establishes Sustainable Products and Solutions Program

University of California, Berkeley has received an initial $2 million gift that will enable the university to establish a new program aimed at providing students educational and research opportunities in the area of sustainable products and solutions. Based at the Center for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, the Sustainable Products and Solutions Program is being established in partnership with UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry. The Dow Chemical Co. Foundation provided the first $2 million and intends to provide another $8 million over the next five years. The program will focus on sustainability issues involving society, science, engineering, the environment and finance. A request for proposals will be issued later this fall seeking research and education ideas, primarily from master's degree-level and doctoral students at UC Berkeley.

Further details are available at:

BMW, Norsk Hydro among the world's most sustainable companies

In the ninth annual survey of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, Norwegian aluminum company Norsk Hydro took the overall top score, while BMW topped the automotive index for the third year running. The survey has been conducted every year since 1999 by the Zurich-based SAM Group, and evaluates the companies in 18 supersectors within the Dow Jones and STOXX classifications. BMW announced its results yesterday, saying that it is the only company in the automotive sector to have made the sustainability indexes every year since their creation.

Norsk Hydro, Norway's largest publicly traded industrial company, scored very high across the three dimensions of the survey: economic, environmental and social dimensions are taken into account in the ranking. The report cites Norsk Hydro's “excellent risk management and compliance systems” as reasons for its success in the survey, and cites the company's smelter in Sunndal, Norway, as an example of how innovation can improve energy use and lower emissions.

BMW was recognized for a range of achievements, including its efficiency enhancements and its steady work on developing hybrid technologies. Although the report notes that BMW's focus on the premium auto market results in “rather high” CO2 emissions, the company's commitments to lower its overall footprint have offset the emissions of its high-end cars.

World Environment Day 2008 to be hosted by New Zealand with focus on fostering low-carbon economies

New Zealand, one of the first countries to pledge a carbon-neutral future, will be the main host of World Environment Day (WED) 2008, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced. The challenge of climate change and threats to polar regions and beyond were spotlighted in Norway as part of WED 2007.

The focus of the global 2008 celebrations hosted in New Zealand will be on the solutions and the opportunities for countries, companies and communities to “Kick the habit” and make the transition to a low carbon economy and lifestyle.

Measures include greater energy efficiency in buildings and appliances, including light bulbs, up to a switch towards cleaner and renewable forms of electricity generation and transport systems. The focus will also be on the role of forests in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. An estimated 20 percent of emissions contributing to climate change globally are a result of deforestation. New Zealand, where forestry is an important industry and conservation of forests is a high priority, plans to use WED to highlight the role technologies and forestry management can play in achieving domestic and international climate goals.

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