At a stakeholder conference titled “From a pilot to the standard: implementing sustainability in research, teachings and operations” in the autumn of 2014, the German Council for Sustainable Development
(RNE) highlighted the implications of sustainability in the research work, teachings and operations of institutions of higher education. Sustainability reporting at institutions of higher education emerged as a central theme. This led RNE – along with some 50 higher education experts – to begin developing a Sustainability Code
for Higher Education Institutions in the spring of 2015 based on the Sustainability Code. At the beginning of 2016, following a development process lasting several months, RNE decided on a beta version of the Sustainability Code for Higher Education Institutions
The Code for Higher Education Institutions seeks to strengthen institutions of higher education in their role as agents of change and bearers of social responsibility. It should be regarded as a minimum standard enabling sustainability to be entrenched within the structures of institutions of higher education by helping them align how they develop their quality and strategy as well as their internal management more closely to the principles of sustainability. Through its condensed, user-friendly form, the Sustainability Code for Higher Education Institutions makes initial entry into sustainability reporting easy and can lend impetus to a sustainability process within those institutions.
Alongside a number of interested institutions of higher education, some 15 institutions actively involved in developing the Sustainability Code for Higher Education Institutions have agreed to test the beta version of the transparency standard as part of a user phase. The one-year testing period is likely to begin in the autumn of this year. Some have already forged ahead and submitted a declaration of conformity with the Sustainability Code for Higher Education Institutions: e.g. the LEUPHANA University
of Lüneburg and the Eberswalde University
for Sustainable Development. Other initial users include the University of Hamburg, the Freie Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Dresden, the University of Applied Sciences Zittau/Görlitz, the University of Tübingen, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, the University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern, the University of Applied Sciences Trier and the Technische Universität Darmstadt.
Once the user phase has been completed, a final version of the Sustainability Code for Higher Education Institutions will be adopted by RNE.
The beta version of the Sustainability Code for Higher Education Institutions can be accessed here
The declaration of conformity of the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development can be accessed here