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European University Institute - Florence School of Transnational Governance

Fostering environmental awareness across the CIVICA alliance

EUI alumnus and former CIVICA Ambassador, Mahmoud Javadi, and Laura Bechi, EUI representative at the CIVICA Environmental Sustainability Board, delve into their experiences advocating for sustainability initiatives across the alliance.

22 April 2024

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In an era marked by escalating environmental challenges, higher education institutions across Europe are redefining their roles beyond academic excellence to advocate for a more sustainable future. At the CIVICA alliance, the member institutions and their students, faculty, and communities are spearheading initiatives aimed at nurturing environmental awareness across campuses.

In January 2024, former CIVICA Ambassador and EUI alumnus, Mahmoud Javadi, and two of his fellow CIVICA ambassadors from the Warsaw School of Economics and the Bocconi University joined forces to launch the Green CIVICA Charter, a collective commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable practices across CIVICA campuses and beyond.

Aiming to fill a gap in the alliance, Javadi and his colleagues wanted to create cross-campus guidelines on how to consume energy more responsibly. "The Green CIVICA Charter involves twenty bottom-up, feasible pledges towards energy conservation, sustainability, and greenness within the CIVICA campuses," explained Javadi, who pitched the idea during his time as an EUI CIVICA Ambassador. "All of them are voluntary, and made exclusively for students and researchers, with no generation of costs if they want to execute each and every one of the pledges."

On the importance of environmental sustainability in higher education, Javadi believes that universities have an important role to play, not only by putting forward ideas and "supporting policymakers, but also educating and enlightening the broader audience on how to respect these ideas of sustainability, greenness, and climate conservation."

The diversity within the CIVICA alliance and its span across Europe supported the project during the brainstorming phase. "CIVICA enabled us to receive various, diverse inputs, sometimes conflicting inputs, in order to come up with a universal guideline that can be applicable to all universities within the alliance, and beyond," said Javadi.

The Green CIVICA Charter is one of many initiatives demonstrating CIVICA's commitment in boosting environmental sustainability efforts within the alliance. In March 2024, alliance university representatives held the first CIVICA Environmental Sustainability Board, to share best practices and experiences on how to improve the environmental performance of partner universities.

Laura Bechi, EUI representative on the CIVICA Environmental Sustainability Board, said "the idea was to meet every six months, but we decided there was an appetite to meet more frequently, and possibly discuss topics that are very hot on the agenda, such as emissions related to travelling, which is something that all universities have to take into account."

On the importance of environmental sustainability in higher education, Bechi thinks that "higher education institutions have a moral duty to invest in environmental sustainability strategies, not only for their operational performance, but also to have a broader responsibility which is that of raising awareness and shaping a new generation."

To learn more on the impact and aspirations of this newly established Board, read the CIVICA interview with Héloïse Lemmans, Chair of the Board and Sciences Po's Head of Environmental Sustainability.

CIVICA brings together ten leading European higher education institutions in the social sciences, humanities, business management and public policy, with a total of 72,000 students and 13,000 faculty members. Together, they build on an ever-stronger combination of teaching research and innovation to mobilise and share knowledge as a public good and to facilitate civic responsibility in Europe and beyond. 

Last update: 24 April 2024

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