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COPERNICUS Alliance (CA) Conference - “Leadership in a Changing World: Higher education, sustainability and the new Global Action Programme on ESD”

Friday 10 – Saturday 11 January 2014
University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham Spa, UK

COPERNICUS Alliance brought together UN Chiefs, experts and students at an international sustainability conference held at the University of Gloucestreshire (UK) from Friday 10 to Saturday 11, 2014.

The international conference focused on global platforms, institutional development and student engagement for sustainable development in higher education. Delegates discussed how universities should promote change and leadership in the area of sustainability and contribute to build a more sustainable future.

The event attracted over 100 delegates, including experts from 15 different countries. Discussion ranged from defining guiding principles of sustainability which needs to feature in degree programmes to the suggestion that graduates should be ‘work ready plus graduates’. Delegates also agreed that social responsibility should feature in position descriptions of Vice Chancellors and University Presidents. 

Key note speakers included Dr. Alexander Leicht (UNESCO ESD, France); Mahesh Pradhan (UNEP – GUPES, Kenya); Dr. Geoff Scott (Co-Chair of the Sustainable Futures Leadership Academy, Australia); Prof Javier Benayas (ARIUSA and CRUE-CADEP, Spain); Dr Lorna Down (University of West Indies, Jamaica); Jamie Agombar (NUS, UK); Felix Spira (RootAbility, Germany); Dr. Zoe Robinson (Keele University, UK); Prof Clemens Mader (Copernicus Alliance, Germany); and, Prof Daniella Tilbury (UNESCO M&E Group for the DESD and Copernicus Alliance, UK).

The second day of the Conference was devoted to student leadership initiatives and the sharing of student and staff learning and engagement experiences.

Dr Geoff Scott, Emeritus Professor of Sustainability at the University of Western Sydney, Australia and Co-Chair of the Sustainable Futures Leadership Academy (SFLA), Australia, said: “The focus of this conference is about how important the role of universities and higher education is in these changing times. It is not only about discussing what can be done to improve a sustainable future for everyone, but more importantly, how to make it happen. Good ideas with no ideas of how to implement them is no good. Change doesn’t just happen, so it is vital to have good leadership in order to lead change through teaching and learning.”

Speaking about what he thought the big issues for the future were, Dr Scott, added: “It is critical that we build leadership capacity across disciplines, that universities help people with new ways forward and that academic institutions engage with their communities.”

Speaking at the conference, the President of COPERNICUS Alliance, Professor Daniella Tilbury, said: “International partnerships and networks such as COPERNICUS Alliance have been key drivers in promoting change for sustainability in universities and informing policy development in the higher education sector. COPERNICUS Alliance is the coordinator of the Rio+20 Treaty process which has over a hundred international signatories and supports efforts to embed innovation for sustainable development in all areas of universities."

The reflections and proposals from the conference will be presented to the organisers of the United Nations World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) which will convene government from around the world at Nagoya, Japan in November 2014.

Copernicus Alliance Conference

Keynote Presentations




European Network on Higher Education for Sustainable Development
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Registration Number: VR200489 
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Email: office(at)copernicus-alliance.org
Tel: +420 220 191 461

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