The Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES) Green Gown Awards 2016

In the lead up to the adoption of post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have stepped up their efforts on sustainability, through the adoption of low carbon strategies and campus design, mainstreaming environmental sustainability across the curriculum, and engaging with communities and stakeholders at all levels on priority sustainability issues.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES), in partnership with the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), recently recognised outstanding sustainable university initiatives. These initiatives promote Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change; Community Engagement; and Student Engagement. The GUPES Green Gown Awards recognised universities and colleges as leaders in sustainability and capacity development platforms for global leaders. It acknowledged the role and contribution of HEIs as living labs; centres of excellence in research and innovation in addressing sustainability challenges, promotion of low carbon campuses, and accelerating the transition to clean energy sources; and complimenting national and regional goals in addressing climate change, water efficiency, food waste and holistic waste management among others.

  • Community Engagement: Initiatives which create significant benefits for local communities, disadvantaged groups (including disability and accessibility in the broader sense) and/or society as a whole in either their host country or developing countries;
  • Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change: Sustained and successful activities that improve the performance of HEIs, faculties and buildings over a number of years and offers a whole institution approach; and
  • Student Engagement: Recognised that students and staff must work together to achieve goals using the “top-down method” and “grass roots method” to achieve maximum understanding and engagement across an institution.

The winners were chosen by an international jury comprising of UNEP and partners from each region. The prize-giving ceremony took place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, USA.

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