Two years of NSCN – lessons learned

Text by: Meeri Karvinen and Meri Löyttyniemi, Aalto University

The idea of establishing NSCN rose from the urgent need of finding our Nordic colleagues, and creating a functioning platform for co-operation. Two years has passed since the establishment – we are happy and proud to present steps taken forward together!

 IMG_9753_2Results of our initial funding 2012-2013 from the Nordic Council of Ministers were presented also in the final seminar in Turku, Finland. 


Prof. Jorma Mattinen, Rector of Åbo Akademi University, welcoming the participants into the Nordic and BUP Seminar‘Competences for Learning and Education for Sustainability (ESD) in Higher Education’ 5.-6.11.2013 in Turku, Finland. (Picture: Meeri Karvinen)


Sharing experiences locally and globally

During the two NSCN years we have learned a lot from each other’s sustainability work, seen many encouraging examples, and strengthened Nordic visibility by acting as a “regional chapter” of ISCN

Enhancing sustainability is not an easy task, however. After two years of intensive co-operation we have come to realize, that the difficulties we encounter at universities, are more or less the same. There might, for example, be quite different issues prioritized in the administrational level of universities than sustainability. Furthermore, the implementation of sustainability is not steered or standardized in Nordic universities (except in Sweden), which leads to varying ways (or lack) of measuring and reporting.

 This raises a challenge: Should we spend the next two years identifying the most important shared obstacles, ways to overcome them, and the best possible ways of steering sustainability work in Nordic universities? Actually, this challenge has already been taken up by NSCN with a project plan “Rio+20 in Nordic HEIs” submitted to the Nordic Council of Ministers. Hopefully we can soon provide more information on this. 

Wider Nordic co-operation – initiating sustainability to NUAS´agenda

Since NSCN is not the only university network in the Nordic region, we initiated co-operation with NUAS from the very beginning. This initiative was warmly welcomed by IMG_9586the NUAS working group Technic, buildings and service. Our fruitful co-operation led to the joint planning of a conference “A Sustainable University – Why and How?”, organized at the University of Oslo 8.-10.9.2013. Additionally, the working group was renamed, and is today called “Facilities and Environment”. 

Sharing of good experience. Morgan Lidén and Eddi Omrcen from the University of Gothenburg present an energy saving project in Oslo NUAS conference 9.9.2013. (Picture: Meeri Karvinen)

In order to enhance sustainability even better in Nordic universities´ operations, we wish to develop further the collaboration with all NUAS working groups, and continue the discussion with NUAS secretariat about the future activities.


NUAS Facilities and environment –working group conference, just before dinner at restaurant Ekeberg 9.11.2013. In the middle, the chair of the working group, Anna-Maija Lukkari, University of Helsinki, Finland. (Picture: Meeri Karvinen)

 Let´s not forget our mission

Our work is not only about sharing practices with colleagues. Our primary target is to improve sustainability of our own organizations. About Aalto University Sustainability you can read at We´ll publish our second sustainability report in April 2014!

In the meantime, a big thanks for the collaboration so far. Looking forward to develop NSCN with all of you!

AaltoGardenAalto campus gardening area with 45 plots for staff and students opened in Otaniemi, October 2013. Now it´s just waiting the spring to come! (Picture: Mikko Raskinen)


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