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Green Office puts sustainability on the map with Sustainability Week

03 October 2023
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picture francine nijp
Francine Nijp

Get ready for a crash course in sustainability: Sustainability Week is around the corner! From 9 to 13 October, the UG's Green Office organizes a week filled with 16 different activities dedicated to the theme of sustainability. Why is the UG committed to this and what can we expect from the University outside of this week? Francine Nijp , communication advisor of the Green Office, fills us in.

Let's start with our main question: why are you organizing this week?

‘Every year, the Green Office organizes the Sustainability Week to engage staff and students. Sustainable development is important to the University and the topic of sustainability is  constantly in the news. Every year, we check which themes are topical and put together a stimulating programme around these themes. This year, we have chosen to focus on climate activism, climate anxiety, and positive impact. With our workshops, lectures, and activities, we hope people will be inspired, forge new connections, and return home with food for thought’.

What do you mean by a sustainable university?

'A sustainable university has sustainability woven into its DNA, so to speak. This means that sustainability is always given consideration in all decisions made, not only in terms of business operations, but also when it comes to teaching and research. In our capacity as Green Office, we do our utmost to work towards this and to keep sustainability on the agenda within the UG at all times. The Sustainability Roadmap 2021-2026 could be thought of as the strategic plan for making the University more sustainable, containing all the ambitions the UG is working on for this period.'

Many students and staff must have noticed the separate waste bins, the request to print less, and the more vegetarian range of food in the canteen. How have these things had an effect on increasing sustainability within the UG?

'All these examples reflect steps that have been taken to make the UG more sustainable as an organization. Less printing obviously saves paper, vegetarian food reduces the University’s carbon emissions, and separating waste at the source makes it possible to organize its collection in such a way that some of the waste can be used as raw material for new applications. For example, coffee cups are recycled into tissues and toilet paper. Of course, there is plenty more we can do, such as flying less when going on business trips and coming to the University by bike.'

Sustainability Week seems to get bigger every year. Does this mean it is a yearly success?

'Sustainability Week is definitely a success every year, although it was more difficult to reach people in the coronavirus period. In 2020 and 2021, we were forced to organize mainly online activities. We have since found that it is more inspiring and fun to be able to meet on site rather than online! That is why we are continuing last year’s upward trend by having an even more extensive programme as well as collaborations with various partners, such as Studium Generale, the Rudolf Agricola School, and Green Labs FSE.'

How do you try to keep the focus on sustainability at the UG outside of Sustainability Week?

'The Green Office campaigns for sustainable developments within the University all year round and organizes UG-wide communication campaigns on topics such as energy consumption and biodiversity. We are also busy behind the scenes in terms of reaching out to specific target groups. For example, the Green Office has a network of Green Ambassadors, consisting of around 200 students who are actively involved in sustainable projects within their own faculties. In our role as point of contact for sustainability within the organization, we also give advice, sometimes unsolicited, and we have a seat at the table when important decisions are being made. That too is how we raise awareness of sustainability!'

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Which activity are you most curious about yourself and why?

This year, we are launching a completely new programme on Wednesday on the role of language,visual language, and communication in relation to sustainability: Sustainability Reimagined. Co-organized with research group RESPONSUS, the programme is aimed at anyone interested in how language and communication shape our understanding of the world, our attitudes, and even our actions. As the sustainability programme's communications advisor, that is what I am most curious about. Marianne Thieme’s keynote speech on Monday evening also sounds very interesting, so you will definitely find me there too!

See below the daylong program on October 11 of Sustainability Reimagined.

programme sustainability reimagined
Programme Sustainability Reimagined
Last modified:05 October 2023 10.46 a.m.
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