MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University must develop a concrete strategy, if it wants to be a sustainable university in 2030. This is stated in an open letter to the Executive Board, written by students from the KAN Party, lecturer John Harbord and professors Roberta Haar and Pim Martens. They invite the rest of the UM community to also sign the letter. The letter will be presented to the Executive Board on 27 March during Earth Hour.
According to its strategic plan, The UM wants to integrate sustainability “into the DNA of the whole organisation” by 2030. However, the university does not have any concrete plans to achieve this goal, the authors of the letter writers reckon. “There are only a few small-scale initiatives, such as Green Impact (a competition in which participants could submit a proposal for a sustainable project, ed.) and a minor about sustainability.”
The UM 2030 Sustainability Taskforce has too little power, says Ezekiel Stevens, student member of the university council for the KAN Party. “Members of the Taskforce do this work alongside their regular tasks, whether this is education, research or policy. They have too little time to co-ordinate large initiatives. They also haven’t managed to contact the faculties. Because of this, they cannot contribute towards decisions being made at that level. Lastly, a lot of money has gone into hiring external experts. That is a pity, because there is a lot of knowledge available within the university.”
That is why the authors want a clear strategy, with plans that are based on research results. A new sustainable body, composed of internal experts, both employees and students, who – contrary to the Taskforce – are given a sufficient number of hours to co-ordinate those plans. It should be headed by a Director of Sustainability and the university is to facilitate the whole plan.
The signatories also want sustainable policy to be given priority from now on. “That is not often the case at the moment,” says Stevens. “The theme, for example, has not been included in the budget. Also, the teams that participated in the Green Impact are still waiting on results, six months later.”
To prevent issues like this, the Director of Sustainability will regularly consult with the top management of the university. In addition, the authors suggest that the University Council should be given the right of approval on sustainability policies. In that way, they can keep tabs on things.