International Consortium discusses advances in building more sustainable universities

Final meeting of the QualEnv project gathered representatives from 14 Latin American and European institutions at PUCRS

12/05/2023 - 08h48

Photo: Matheus Gomes

The end of April was marked by the final meeting of the international project QualEnv Change the Climate: Assuring the Quality of Environmental Strategies in Latin-American Higher Education, funded by Erasmus+. The consortium formed by 14 institutions (three European universities and 11 Latin American universities) gathered in person on April 26th, 27th and 28th in the auditorium of PUCRS’s Building 50 to discuss the project’s advances, challenges and results.

The opening ceremony featured the presence of PUCRS’s President, Br. Evilázio Teixeira, who stressed, in his welcoming speech, that innovative universities that are aware of their social commitment must be protagonists of the regional and global development process. Teixeira reinforced the role of Higher Education for the eradication of poverty, intolerance, violence, illiteracy, hunger, environmental deterioration and illnesses. “Projects like this confirm the commitment with training technically qualified professionals who are also committed to civic duties. It is up to each of us, as well as the university, to create and strengthen communities with people who commit to creating more effective solidarity with regard to life and to all that is human through education, research and innovation,” he said.

Br. Evilázio Teixeira / Photo: Giordano Toldo

According PUCRS’s Institute for the Environment director Nelson Fontoura, coordinator of the project in the University, the event was very important to summarize the evolution process of the institutions involved in the QualEnv project to create an operation of the campuses on the journey to sustainability. The main goals include the development of Environmental Management Systems that are to be implemented in Latin American universities, as well as mapping carbon footprints and compliance with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Over the course of the three days of the event, the presentations were organized by country. From the Brazilian institutions, there were presentations from PUCRS, UFSC, UNISUL, UFRGS, ULBRA and FEEVALE; from Peru, from the University of Lima and the University of the Pacific; from Colombia, from UNINORTE and UNISABANA; from Costa Rica, from the National University of Costa Rica and from the University of Costa Rica; and from Mexico, from the University of Guadalajara and the Benemérita Universidade Autônoma de Puebla. Lastly, from the European institutions, there were presentations from Portugal’s ISCTE, from Italy’s Polytechnic University of Turin, and from Sweden’s University of Gothenburg.

PUCRS invests in Environmental Management Program

Professor Nelson Fontoura / Photo: Matheus Gomes

As a direct consequence of the project, PUCRS developed an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). The EMP will be implemented through an Environmental Management Committee, which will be directed related to PUCRS’s President’s Office, indicating the institutional commitment to reducing carbon footprints and to complying with the Sustainable Development Goals. At PUCRS, environmental management becomes a part of the institutional strategic drivers.

“PUCRS’s Environmental Management Plan aims to implement a permanent program for monitoring environmental performance, as well as establishing environmental performance and sustainability goals, in a broad sense, to be implemented in different locations. It is a collaborative development document which will be continuously improved through permanent dialogue with all internal actors,”

explains Fontoura. According to the researcher, the initiative aims at creating a campus operation in an environmentally friendly manner, consuming less energy, fuels and water, producing less waste.

“However, more than a sustainable operation, as an education institutional, PUCRS seeks to disseminate sustainability culture to the entire academic community, thus sharing the sustainable development vision with the general society,” he concludes.

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