Rio+20 Higher Education Sustainability Initiative


In 2012 UN had a global conference on sustainability in Rio de Janeiro, the so called Rio+20 conference. The outcome of the conference, The Future We Want, commits societies all over the world to implement sustainable development principles in all their operations.

Parallel to the UN main conference, higher education institutes gathered in WSSD-U 2012  (World Summit on Sustainability – Universities), and initiated a new sustainability declaration for HEIs: The Rio+20 Higher Education Sustainability Initiative, HESI. As distinct from the previous sustainability declarations for higher education, HESI emhasizes also the role of education for sustainable development (ESD). The initiative includes five main targets, which the signatories commit to implement in their institutions:

  1. Teach sustainable development concepts
  2. Encourage research on sustainable development issues
  3. Green campuses
  4. Support SD efforts in the communities in which the universities reside
  5. Engage with and share results through international frameworks

NSCN supporting Rio+20

NSCN is a network aiming at improving universities’ sustainability actions by sharing best practices and experiences. Through this project, however, NSCN is able to apart from being just a Nordic actor, implement additionally the joint sustainability commitments made in Rio de Janeiro and afterwards, and thus be a part of global effort towards a better future.


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