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A living lab for sustainability

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On 28 April, Una Europa officially launched its Task Force "Sustainability and Climate Protection". Just after the kick-off, we spoke to Katrin Schweigel, contact point at the lead university, Freie Universität Berlin, to learn more about the Task Force's ambitions, next steps and challenges ahead.

What are the key pillars the Task Force for Sustainability and Climate Protection will be working on?

The Una Europa partner universities have developed various areas of focus and a diverse range of strengths in the field of sustainable development. It is this diversity that we would like to build on to foster cooperation in institutional and governance-related aspects of sustainable development and climate protection. To improve sustainability management, the Una Task Force will initially focus on four courses of action: Governance, Teaching & Community Engagement, Operations as well as Healthy & Resilient Communities. Key task of the Task Force: draft the Una Europa Sustainability Strategy.

Which first highlights and results do you expect in the short-term and which nuts are harder to crack?

In a first instance, we are very pleased with the good response from all Una partner universities who are involved as champions and advocates in the various courses of actions we defined. In the short term, the monthly meetings of our four working groups will contribute to a broad exchange of experience which will inform the drafting of the Una Sustainability Strategy. Best practice will be presented and participants will be sensitized to specific challenges at the partner institutions. This being said, Una Europa's ambition ultimately is to go beyond the exchange of good practice and to jointly develop strategies and measures that actively contribute to a real sustainability transformation. This is certainly the task that needs most work in the longer term. Eventually, we want to bring the joint Una Sustainability Strategy to life, really make it a living document that actively shapes and supports a sustainability transformation.

What is your role in the Task Force? What inspires you personally to work on Una Europa matters in this context?

Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) is the lead university for Sustainability in Una Europa. My colleague Marie-Julie Jacquemot and I support the coordination of the Una Task Force for Sustainability and Climate Protection. I will also be representing FUB in the Healthy and Resilient Communities group. This group deals, for instance, with the importance of the university campus, not only for university stakeholders, but also for the surrounding community. We will touch on topics such as biodiversity, quality of public places, well-being and sports. I think this is a wonderful illustration of the broad understanding of sustainability that we want to capture in the Una Sustainability Strategy, and I am very much looking forward to working with the colleagues from the other Una Europa universities.

Interview by Inga Odenthal, Una Europa

In DAAD's Campus Europa Podcast, Verena Blechinger-Talcott, current Chair of the Board of Directors, recently gave some insights into Una Europa's work on sustainability (in German):