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Academic Institutions Leading the Charge: Addressing Climate Crisis through Sustainable Development Initiatives

The National Capital Region has recorded unprecedented high temperatures. Although 2023 was deemed the hottest year by the UN World Meteorological Department, this year’s heatwave has shattered previous records by a significant margin. The climate crisis is an urgent issue that transcends borders and must be addressed with utmost seriousness.

To address this alarming cause, Academic institutions have the potential to generate significant positive change. Higher education institutions have played a crucial role by implementing and driving sustainable development initiatives and in achieving the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which can be a game-changer for the drastic climatic conditions. Recently, IIT Bombay has developed a sustainability policy aimed at monitoring the campus’s carbon footprint and taking effective steps to reduce emissions. The policy also outlines ways in which individual departments can contribute to this cause.

According to the QS International Student Survey 2023, 46% of prospective Indian students interested in studying at Indian universities are actively researching the environmental sustainability strategies of these institutions.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023, published by the United Nations, highlights that “youth have emphasized the need for interdisciplinary, action-oriented education that is both globally relevant and tailored to local realities, along with adequate teacher support.”

Along the same lines, Radhika Shrivastava, Executive Director, Fortune Institute of International Business commented that, “FIIB’s commitment to sustainability is demonstrated through our comprehensive policy established back in 2012. Our initiatives focus on education, campus sustainability, and community engagement, aligning with UNSDG’s goals #4 (Quality Education), #5 (Gender Equality), #8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), and #9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure). In academics, 85% of our courses integrate ESG concepts, fostering ethical decision-making and responsible management. Campus efforts include composting, recycling paper and e-waste, and organizing donation drives to reduce our carbon footprint. Through our Social Internship Program, we’ve partnered with 25 social organizations, completing 836 impactful projects. Our community outreach extends to supporting local economies and skill development in villages, highlighting our dedication to fostering sustainable development and social responsibility.”

In 2020, India enacted the National Education Policy (NEP), which addresses the critical need for environmental education in schools. Through this policy, the government has successfully incorporated initiatives to ensure that students receive a comprehensive education that increases environmental awareness and encourages practical action. By shifting from content-based learning to skill-based learning, the policy recognizes the transformative power of an experiential approach in all subject areas, including environmental education. It actively encourages educators to integrate hands-on pedagogy that enables students to engage with real-world.

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