Status of initiative: N/a
Description/achievement of initiative

Signatories of the Treaty commit to change at five levels:

1. Cultural: Promote change so that sustainable development becomes a guiding principle for higher education.

2. Campus: Mainstream campus management practices and extend good practice across the sector.

3. Curriculum: Reorient the curriculum so that it aligns with sustainable development.

4. Community Engagement: Demolish the walls of higher education institutions which can exclude the work of the communities that they serve and improve access to higher education.

5. Connecting the System: Review the various policies, incentives and mechanisms driving higher education to ensure that they are aligned with sustainable development.

Implementation methodologies

Those who are signatories of the Treaty commit to transform higher education towards sustainable development by implementing the immediate, short-, medium- and long-term actions outlined in the Treaty (please see the deliverables described below). Agencies, organisations and associations signing the Treaty should re-align and develop strategic plans and frameworks to implement these actions, as well as work in partnership to effectively embed change for sustainable development across the sector.

The Treaty has been drafted by representatives from over thirty higher education agencies, organisations and associations rooted in different parts of the world (The Treaty Circle). The cross-cultural dialogue and development process underpinning this document has served to build collaborative links and ownership. It has paved the way for a new consolidated platform for cooperation beyond Rio+20. It is envisaged that the document could lead to joint implementation projects and the sharing of best practice.

Progress of the implementation of the Treaty will be monitored and reviewed by a group of members from the Treaty Circle in 2013. This review will capture the lessons learned and challenges from the first year of implementation (immediate actions) and will inform the next steps to achieve the short-, medium- and long-term actions.

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure


COPERNICUS Alliance (CA) (LEAD), IAU, UNU IAS, AUA, AASHE, ACTS, ARIUSA, EduSost, CRUE-CADEP, CAREC, EAUC, GUNI, GUPES, ISCN, KAGCI, LFS, MESA, MIO-ECSD, PRISM, ProSPER.Net, Students for Global Sustainability, SFLA, BUP, The China Green University Network, The Reorienting Teaching Network, UN EDC, UNESCO Chairs in Higher Education, UNEP-EETU, UNICA, UNU RCE, WSCSD
Immediate actions: Developing a set of indicators which can guide the change process and help capture developments which bring us closer to the goal of sustainable development.
Short-term actions: To create structural and supportive frameworks for embedding education for sustainable development competences within higher education experiences.
Medium-term actions: To develop professional development models and support for staff in this area.
Long-term actions: To achieve cultural change across the higher education organisations and institutions we are engaged in.
Sustainable Development Goals and targets
Resources devoted to implementation
Staff / Technical expertise
Senior management commitment and expertise is key to effectively embed change. Equally, educators, support and administrative staff require specific competences for sustainable development to reorient curricula, research, campus management practices and
Progress reports
Cut off date each year: 2 May
This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
Action Network
Location: Global
Date of completion: 2030
Operating in countries
Partner connections
Contact information/focal point(s)
Daniella Tilbury,

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