University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, October 15, 1990


[Rachel's introduction: An historic attempt to define and promote sustainability in higher education was made in October 1990 with the creation of the Talloires Declaration. Jean Mayer, the President of Tufts University, convened twenty-two university presidents and chancellors in Talloires, France, to voice their concerns about the state of the world and create a document that spelled out key actions institutions of higher education must take to create a sustainable future. Your college or university can sign the Declaration; a Talloires Declaration resource kit is available here.]

We, the presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors of universities from all regions of the world are deeply concerned about the unprecedented scale and speed of environmental pollution and degradation, and the depletion of natural resources.

Local, regional, and global air and water pollution; accumulation and distribution of toxic wastes; destruction and depletion of forests, soil, and water; depletion of the ozone layer and emission of "green house" gases threaten the survival of humans and thousands of other living species, the integrity of the earth and its biodiversity, the security of nations, and the heritage of future generations. These environmental changes are caused by inequitable and unsustainable production and consumption patterns that aggravate poverty in many regions of the world.

We believe that urgent actions are needed to address these fundamental problems and reverse the trends. Stabilization of human population, adoption of environmentally sound industrial and agricultural technologies, reforestation, and ecological restoration are crucial elements in creating an equitable and sustainable future for all humankind in harmony with nature.

Universities have a major role in the education, research, policy formation, and information exchange necessary to make these goals possible. Thus, university leaders must initiate and support mobilization of internal and external resources so that their institutions respond to this urgent challenge.

We, therefore, agree to take the following actions:

1. Increase Awareness of Environmentally Sustainable Development Use every opportunity to raise public, government, industry, foundation, and university awareness by openly addressing the urgent need to move toward an environmentally sustainable future.

2. Create an Institutional Culture of Sustainability Encourage all universities to engage in education, research, policy formation, and information exchange on population, environment, and development to move toward global sustainability.

3. Educate for Environmentally Responsible Citizenship Establish programs to produce expertise in environmental management, sustainable economic development, population, and related fields to ensure that all university graduates are environmentally literate and have the awareness and understanding to be ecologically responsible citizens.

4. Foster Environmental Literacy For All Create programs to develop the capability of university faculty to teach environmental literacy to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

5. Practice Institutional Ecology Set an example of environmental responsibility by establishing institutional ecology policies and practices of resource conservation, recycling, waste reduction, and environmentally sound operations.

6. Involve All Stakeholders Encourage involvement of government, foundations, and industry in supporting interdisciplinary research, education, policy formation, and information exchange in environmentally sustainable development. Expand work with community and nongovernmental organizations to assist in finding solutions to environmental problems.

7. Collaborate for Interdisciplinary Approaches Convene university faculty and administrators with environmental practitioners to develop interdisciplinary approaches to curricula, research initiatives, operations, and outreach activities that support an environmentally sustainable future.

8. Enhance Capacity of Primary and Secondary Schools Establish partnerships with primary and secondary schools to help develop the capacity for interdisciplinary teaching about population, environment, and sustainable development.

9. Broaden Service and Outreach Nationally and Internationally Work with national and international organizations to promote a worldwide university effort toward a sustainable future.

10. Maintain the Movement

Establish a Secretariat and a steering committee to continue this momentum, and to inform and support each other's efforts in carrying out this declaration.

Creators and Original Signatories

Jean Mayer, President Tufts University, U.S.A. (Conference Convener)

Pablo Arce, Vice Chancellor Universidad Autonoma de Centro America, Costa Rica

L. Ayo Banjo, Vice Chancellor University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Boonrod Binson, Chancellor Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Robert W. Charlton, Vice Chancellor & Principal University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

Constantine W. Curris, President University of Northern Iowa, U.S.A.

Michele Gendreau-Massaloux, Rector l'Academie de Paris, France

Mario Ojeda Gomez, President Colegio de Mexico, Mexico

Adamu Nayaya Mohammed, Vice Chancellor Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria

Augusto Frederico Muller, President Fundacao Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, Brazil

Calvin H. Plimpton, President Emeritus American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Wesley Posvar, President University of Pittsburgh, U.S.A.

T. Navaneeth Rao, Vice Chancellor Osmania University, India

Moonis Raza, Vice Chanc ellor Emeritus University of New Delhi, India

Pavel D. Sarkisov, Rector D. I. Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology U.S.S.R.

Stuart Saunders, Vice Chancellor & Principal University of Cape Town, South Africa

Akilagpa Sawyerr, Vice Chancellor University of Ghana, Ghana

Carlos Vogt, President Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil

David Ward, Vice Chancellor University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.A.

Xide Xie, President Emeritus Fudan University, People's Republic of China

University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF), 2100 "L" Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037 USA Tel. 202-778-6133; Fax 202-778-6138

Copyright 2001 by ULSF