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The higher education sector is well placed to address the environmental challenges facing the planet, to support the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the green transition as well as the EU’s Green Deal.

Many higher education institutions in the EHEA are actively involved in a range of forward-thinking activities in the area of environmental sustainability, both to green their own footprint and to contribute to their surrounding communities as responsible societal actors. Their experience in this field makes them key in the transition towards carbon neutrality and sustainable societies.


Environmental sustainability and the green transition are central goals of European societies and economies, a key aspect of the SDGs, and therefore an important call for Europe’s universities. EUA has reiterated its commitment to the 2030 Agenda in its Strategic Plan (Priority 1), and its 2030 vision “Universities without Walls”.

EUA engages in initiatives to promote the contribution of the European higher education sector towards carbon neutrality and towards more sustainable European societies and economies. It also works to foster collaboration and peer learning between members and partners in the development of sustainable higher education institutions, with a view to enhance the wider societal impact through education and research, and engagement with society, at local and global levels. 

EUA contributes to making the work of members more visible through data collection and events. It also contributes to European greening policy and instruments, for example by supporting the development of the MSCA Green Charter and by gathering and sharing information on institutions’ approaches and activities in the field of greening.

These efforts are linked to EUA’s work in promoting the role of universities in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Association’s role in shaping EU research and innovation programmes.

The European Green Deal is an ambitious initiative to achieve climate neutrality in Europe by 2050. It comprises various policies and regulations primarily aimed at carbon-intensive industries, with a view to transforming production and consumption patterns, while still ensuring economic growth.

In terms of consistency across sectors and within society at large, the Green Deal is yet to demonstrate a truly holistic approach, where the emphasis on continued growth is balanced by a focus on values and incentives that go beyond consumption. The ability of universities to bring together expertise from these different areas can be used as a model to realise systemic approaches throughout the EU. Additionally, social sciences and humanities can enable policies that are more attuned to the complexity of behavioural change, social acceptance and the influence of value and belief systems. Universities want a Green Deal that is evidence-based, and they have the capacity to offer strong, reliable data to this end. Universities must be recognised as critical Green Deal stakeholders that can help foster impactful narratives for citizen mobilisation and avoid the fragmentation of policies across different domains.

EUA is working towards these objectives based on the university vision for the Green Deal launched in 2022 and the roadmap for universities in the Green Deal developed in 2023.

Discover EUA’s Green Deal roadmap for universities

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