People's Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education
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.


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
Deliverable Date
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. 2013
Short-term actions: To create structural and supportive frameworks for embedding education for sustainable development competences within higher education experiences. 2015
Medium-term actions: To develop professional development models and support for staff in this area. 2025
Long-term actions: To achieve cultural change across the higher education organisations and institutions we are engaged in. 2030
Resources devoted to implementation
Type Details
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

Daniella Tilbury, Professor and President of COPERNICUS Alliance,

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