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G8 University Rectors: Towards the Final Declaration Francesco Profumo, Rector of Politecnico di Torino Dear Colleagues Presidents and Rectors, Distinguished Delegates from so many Countries Honourable Guests Many thanks to the colleague professor Puglisi, to Clare Shari and Stefano Pistillo for presenting the outcomes of the students’ discussion that are embodied in their Final Declaration. This joint effort of both Students and Rectors represents an important feature of our 2009 G8 University Summit. The main themes discussed by the Students who met in Palermo one week ago were: • Education for Sustainable Development • Culture of Lawfulness and Heritage of Peace. I really appreciated the great synergy of contents of the Students’ Final Declaration with most of the fundamental assumptions behind this year Summit and with the general implant of last year Summit in Japan. As anticipated in my earlier speech this morning, our Summit represents a continuation of the previous meeting in Japan and thus reiterates the wish expressed by the “Sapporo Sustainability Declaration”, that Universities all over the world will take actions appropriate to their respective countries and regions. Universities are part of an extensive international network of organisations and are in a position to act as laboratories for the post-crisis world and to encourage new thinking. This is why this year the focus of the Summit is on the fundamental role that Education and Research have in informing, promoting and implementing sustainable and responsible development, both at the local and global level. As affirmed by United Nations, education is a human right and the primary agent of transformation towards sustainable development, increasing people’s capacities to transform their visions for society into reality. Education teaches people to be better individuals, family members, community members and citizens. This educational effort is intended to encourage changes in behaviour that will create a more sustainable future. Quality education is holistic and a prerequisite for education for sustainable and responsible development. It upholds and conveys the ideals of a sustainable world. It takes into consideration the social, economic and environmental context. Quality education is locally relevant and culturally appropriate. It is informed by the past and relevant to the present, and prepares individuals for the future. In recognition of the importance of Education for sustainable and responsible development, we, the 2009 G8 University Summit Presidents and Rectors from the leading Universities of almost twenty Nations, gathered here, in Turin, to discuss and reinforce the significant role that Universities should play in tackling the issues facing humanity relating to responsible and sustainable development. Sustainability is a holistic concept requiring an integrated engagement of both natural sciences and all other sciences. The science of sustainability is emerging and evolving, and has come to play an increasingly important role in addressing one of the greatest challenges facing humankind. Universities are at the corner stone of this debate, providing support to Sustainability as a process and goal that can be achieved by engaging the natural sciences alongside the social sciences and humanities, industry and the community in order to promote awareness of the issues of sustainability. Universities are aware of the necessity to update their strategies and procedures to accommodate the resilience required to progressively adapt to changing physical, historical and social conditions and to play an active role in shaping a more sustainable future. Universities are also aware of the responsibilities that their enhanced role entails and they declare their readiness to address them. To better analyze and communicate the complexity of these issues related to sustainability, the 2009 University Summit has adopted a 4 Es framework, i.e. Economics, Ethics, Energy policy and Ecology. • In the field of Economics, Universities should provide rational approaches to understand how to use natural resources most efficiently, how to make them accessible to everybody and how to propose reasoned guidance for decision making, from the perspective of long-term sustainability. • With reference to Ethics, Universities should make efforts to create new approaches to the solution of problems of sustainability that include a more prominent role for ethics and for arguments based on ethics to foster a sound sense of responsibility for the maintenance of the global community, and help policy makers introduce fair and sensitive incentives to facilitate decision-making consistent with sustainable and responsible development. • Talking about Energy policy, Universities should provide expertise and impetus toward the rational use of natural resources and the pro-active development of alternative energies and energy-saving technologies. • Finally, with reference to Ecology, Universities should focus on generating and disseminating knowledge on the interdependence between the environment and human activities, with the objective of aiding society and policy makers to understand the consequences of their activities and urging them to act rationally. Each “E” will be the topic of a key note speech provided by an international very distinguished experts. It is for me a great pleasure and honour to introduce: • Professor Mario Monti - President of Bocconi University and Former EU Commissioner for Economics • Professor Pei Gang - Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for Ethics • Professor James Barber - President of the International Society of Photosynthesis Research for Energy policy • His Excellency Kwabena Owusu Akyeampong - Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Tourism for Ecology We expect the panel discussion during the parallel sessions to focus on a number of strategies for Universities that embrace the 4 E’s, including the following: Broad, global engagement to promote awareness of sustainability issues Universities should promote partnership and knowledge sharing between developing and developed parts of the world, they should be providing leadership, advocacy and guidance to policy makers, industry, the community and individuals, which will foster understanding of the interdependence among the different regions of the globe as much as among the 4 E’s in promoting sustainable development. Universities also need to ensure that they are training the next generation of leaders, graduate and undergraduate students, in fields relevant to sustainable development. All students should be provided with exposure to the issues connected with sustainable development, and encouraged to be involved in the creation of a sustainable and responsible environment. Restructuring of education and research to provide input of cutting-edge knowledge The development of a sustainable society requires the latest scientific knowledge in all 4 E’s, restructured to reverse past tendencies toward stratification and fragmentation in education and research, and to foster an integrated holistic approach to decision making and problem-solving. Thinking along disciplines has to be supplemented by systems thinking. Governance for strategic development Universities and research institutes should provide policy makers with access to high quality education and research to ensure that they are developing policies based on the latest scientific knowledge. Equally important, universities should play a pivotal role in the development of sound governance, based on new participative, multi-scale, polycentric and non-hierarchical approaches to policy making and public administration, regulation and law. For these purposes efforts must be made toward the establishment of new ethics of sustainability. In addition, proper communication channels between universities and policy makers have to be established. Networking of networks Essential to the development of sustainability science is the implementation of the “Network of networks” (NNs), launched at the “2008 G8 University Summit,” which aims to link various discipline-specific research networks already in place. Built upon the NNs, a virtual Global Research Centre on sustainable and responsible development should be established to act as an integrated yet autonomous virtual research centre in the pursuit of sustainable and responsible development.
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