Sustainable development is one of the biggest global challenges of our time. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the European Union’s European Green Deal address the global challenges we face today and provide the framework to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They highlight the need to work across different disciplines and sectors and for closer engagement with citizens.

Higher Education Institutions have a crucial role to play as drivers of fresh thinking and innovation and key contributors to the objectives of both the European Green Deal and the UN SDGs. ‘Green Universities’ are also central the European Strategy for Universities with a focus on inter- and transdisciplinary education and research that is needed to assess, understand and solve the global challenges of today. In addition, the upcoming Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on Education for Environmental Sustainability is testament to the growing importance of teaching sustainable development across disciplines to educate the European graduates and citizens of the future. Horizon Europe, the EU’s largest ever research and innovation funding programme (2021 – 2027), aims to tackle climate change and help achieve the UN SDGs with a notable amount of the Horizon Europe budget to be dedicated to sustainable development. The Missions in Horizon Europe, a novelty in the programme, in particular have been designed to bring concrete solutions to some of the greatest global challenges and support Europe’s transformation into a greener, healthier, more inclusive and resilient continent.

The focus on sustainability is fundamental to Una Europa, as a strategic building block of the alliance. The Una Europa partner institutions share an understanding of the ‘sustainable university’ as an institution that systematically develops communities, opportunities, spaces, and projects to tackle global environmental and societal challenges. Una Europa partner universities see it as their institutional responsibility to actively shape global discourse and address the related challenges in all areas of our universities, developing a ‘whole-institution approach’ to sustainability in linking efforts in teaching, research, service to society as well as governance and campus management.

The second Una Europa Talk brings together experts from across Una Europa partner institutions and CHARM-EU European University to discuss the role and responsibility of European Universities in driving the sustainable university of the future and achieving well-being of citizens and society at large. The panel brings together diverse viewpoints, notably students, teachers, researchers and professional staff from across the European University community; the community that will be so central to transforming into a Sustainable University of the Future.

The event was part of Berlin Science Week 2021 and hosted by Una Europa.