The SDG Action Day happened on the 25th of September! On that day, Saxion, ROC Twente and the University of Twente wanted to draw more attention to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These seventeen key development goals are a ‘to-do list’ for a future-proof world, and we want to have it checked by 2030. They are a collective call to action for a prosperous society, a healthy earth and a vibrant economy. There is only one planet Earth, and we need to take care of it. An ever-growing number of people are aware of this. However, this can and must be done better. This is why ROC Twente, University of Twente, and Saxion are pleased to be joining forces to draw more attention to this. They aim to create more awareness and inspire students and staff to make more conscious choices.
Extended periods of drought, extreme weather in Southern Europe, rising sea-levels and the natural disaster in Libya. This summer has seen the world once again confronted by the consequences of climate change. “It’s just one natural disaster after the other,” says Dan Hartenberg from the Green Hub at the University of Twente (UT). “That is why it’s a must to get more attention for climate change. That’s exactly what we are doing on SDG Action Day and also during Sustainability Week. This year Sustainability Week is being held from the 27th of November to the 1st of December.”
The UT, ROC Twente and Saxion are joining forces to make it a success. “This way we can have a bigger impact,” says Hartenberg. “If we did it separately we would just draw three smaller bits of attention. By rolling it all into one single week, you get all the attention in one go. For example, during the week we will be visiting Enschede City Council together. We make each other stronger by working together.”
More than just climate
During Sustainability Week, educational institutions raise awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the seventeen goals that can contribute to creating a better world. “People often think about sustainability only in terms of the ecological aspects, but there are social and economic goals too,” tells Janine Schoeman of Saxion Green Office. “Things like poverty and hunger. You also hear more often about how bad the situation is in the Netherlands. We not only notice this among students and staff, but also through our giveaway box at Saxion. It’s proving to be very popular. The choices we make now can help create a better future. That’s our message to staff and students all year round, but during Sustainability Week we focus on this even more.”
Sustainability has become a hot topic in recent years. That is clear to see at all three educational institutions. “At ROC Twente we’re working on sustainability on three fronts,” explains Frans Slingerland, Director of Real Estate & Facility Services, who is also director of the theme: ‘Thinking and acting sustainably’. In our operations, we look at how we deal with energy, water use and making buildings more sustainable. In the area of services, we think about the mobility and vitality of our staff. The third front is how we incorporate sustainability into our education. We are already doing a lot without noticing it. At the same time we look at the extent to which we should focus on new technology in specific programmes. You can see this for example in our fashion programme. We now have a separate line on circularity there and we also do a lot of work with used materials.
Part of the curriculum
The same goes for the University of Twente and Saxion. Sustainability is a key theme at both these educational institutions. “Much research at Saxion is linked to the SDGs,” says Schoeman. “The same goes for the Smart Solutions Semester. What we are doing is not always visible, although we are doing our best to make it more visible. Sustainability has got to be clearly identifiable at all our schools.” Hartenberg: “The vision of the Green Hub is to make the University of Twente the most sustainable educational institution in Europe. We do this by supporting sustainability initiatives. We are trying to mobilise our community. This year we also have the Climate Centre at our disposal. They encourage research that focuses on sustainability, by for example awarding grants. And of course, sustainability is woven into all our education. Although we do want to be able to highlight this better, to help convince prospective students to come and join us.
Learning from each other
University of Twente, Saxion and ROC Twente all want to contribute to a better world both in the short and long term. Sustainability Week certainly serves to underline this. Hartenberg: “We hope to make people more aware of the impact they can have themselves. We also want to convince people who have little to do with sustainability that it is necessary to make conscious choices, for example by taking the train instead of the plane. Furthermore Hartenberg, Schoeman and Slingerland hope that the three educational institutions can learn from each other. “We are separate institutions, but we also have a lot in common,” says Schoeman. “We can learn from each other and inspire one another.” Slingerland thoroughly agrees. “Sustainability is a subject that affects us all. We want to show that the entire education chain is busy working on it. Sustainability Week can also be seen as a stimulus to create more interaction between the educational institutions, to form a strong triangle.”
Sustainability Week: 27 November – 1 December 2023
Sustainability Week is an annual event full of fun and educational activities aimed at inspiring participants to embrace sustainability. The week is organised by students and staff at ROC Twente, Saxion and University of Twente. Together they provide a programme of activities concerning sustainability. Participants can gain more knowledge about sustainability, discover new topics and think up solutions for complex challenges relating to sustainability.