european students’ union

Student message to Copenhagen climate conference

December 7, 2009

The European Students’ Union calls on governments to encourage climate studies and give the opportunity to every citizen to learn more about the challenges our next generations will have to face. Every study programme should have a perspective on environmental issues. Higher education institutions should be incentivised to provide access to those study programmes and encourage sustainable projects proposed by the students.

These are some of the points adopted in a statement by the members of ESU.

You can read the whole statement below.

Dear participants of the COP15 Climate Conference,

Dear former and current students,At the eve of a historical debate on the responsibility of mankind towards its hosting planet, the European Students’ Union wants to point out what students are asking from authorities and institutions and how they want to contribute themselves.  The European Students’ Union is an umbrella organization of 48 national unions of students from 38 different countries in Europe, representing more than 11 million students in the Higher Education setting.

Students have always been on the forefront when history took a turn and students should be at the forefront when you are deciding on their future environment.  The European Students’ Union therefore wants to stress the major role of students in society and the role of their institutions in a climate change plan.  Not only will the students studying today be representing one of the 192 countries attending the COP’s in the next climate conferences, but those students today deserve proper education on how they can help to prevent green house gas emissions and opportunities to work actively on these issues.

Governments should encourage climate studies and give the opportunity to every citizen to learn more about the challenges our next generations will have to face.  Every study programme should have a perspective on environmental issues society has and also according to the UNESCO/OECD guidelines on “Quality provision in Cross-border Higher Education, inviting students to start a dialogue and pointing out their responsibility in the process towards a healthier earth.  Higher education institutions should be incentivised to provide access to those study programmes and encourage sustainable projects proposed by the students. Educational institutions need now to invest immediately and strongly in research on global warming, environment safeguarding, sustainable energies and the evolution needed by our socio-economics systems.

Earth however will not get saved by dialogue only.  The European Students’ Union calls upon its members to act immediately through the creation of student awareness on the danger of apathy towards climate change.  Students have always been instigators of change in diverse evolutions and revolutions of the society, they cannot be kept out of this revolution earth needs to safeguard the wellbeing of mankind and which is already in front of us all.  As the next workers and actors of our society, student will have to tackle the adaptativity challenge. We must face the fact that a need for balance between the earth capacity and our needs and production has to be found within some years.

Not only students but also their institutions should react with clear actions.  The insertion of green policies on all university and university college campuses across the world is not too hard to ask. Moreover the higher education institutions own – in general – a vast amount of campuses and buildings in which the government and the institutions can invest much more to downsize the carbon footprint of university life.

The role higher education institutions have to play in educating their students to become aware citizens is immense. The implementation of environmental issues study programs will need a rapid evolution in the way our teachers are trained in order to impact the next generation as soon as possible.

The European Students’ Union and its 11 million students are waiting to study at zero emission campuses, where they will be formed to live a responsible life in the society of tomorrow.  Therefore, the European Students’ Union calls upon all 192 national authorities, their contacts in the higher education setting and their students to push the green button.

The statement was adopted at ESU’s 57th Board Meeting in Krakow, 28 November 2009.

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