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But there are also other assets from which a society can draw to shape its own wellbeing to pass on to successive generations.
Each member of our community has a role to play in this effort.
We must continue to generate new ideas and spur exciting innovations by collaborating across disciplines as we develop solutions to pressing global challenges.
The United Nation’s Brundtland Commission Report of 1987 concluded that humanity has the ability to make development sustainable if it meets “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Brundtland Report was the catalyst that helped focus humanity on our obligations to future generations as well as to the importance of developing people, not just protecting the environment.
However, there is a growing consensus among scholars and leaders around the world that we must now build on the Brundtland Report by incorporating a deeper consideration of human well-being into the evolving approach to sustainable development on local, regional, and global levels.
Our Sustainability Plan aligns Harvard’s decentralized campus around a holistic vision and sets clear University-wide goals and priorities in the areas of emissions and energy, campus operations, nature and ecosystems, health and well-being, and culture and learning.
It also encourages students, faculty, and staff to continue piloting sustainability solutions throughout the University by using Harvard’s cutting-edge research and teaching to tackle real-world challenges on campus.It considers the University’s role in the world and recognizes our shared responsibility to build and operate a campus that contributes to the well-being of every member of our community—and ultimately to the health of the planet.It recognizes that creating a sustainable campus strengthens our core research and teaching mission, and it acknowledges that the challenges In October 2008, President Faust hosted a Sustainability Celebration to rally the community around Harvard’s greenhouse gas reduction goal—15,000 people attended, and Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore delivered the keynote address. What does sustainable development mean for an institution like Harvard University?Harvard is a thriving academic community that is uniquely positioned to engage in a robust dialogue around these questions and what it truly means to be an organization that supports sustainable development not only through its research and teaching, but also through its operations.Sustainable development at Harvard involves more than simply reducing our campus’ impact on the surrounding environment.What are the specific constituents of well-being that most concern us?How are we thinking about them in terms of consequences, not just for us, but also taking into account positive or negative impacts we have on others today and in the future?We are living in an increasingly uncertain and volatile world.Temperatures are rising, droughts are more frequent, food supplies are increasingly scarce, the gap between rich and poor is growing and billions still do not have access to basic hygiene and sanitation. The Business & Sustainable Development Commission, co-founded by Unilever, concluded that successful delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which seek to tackle 17 of world’s most urgent challenges – will create market opportunities of at least trillion a year.Harvard’s commitment to sustainability has united individuals across our Schools around common goals and a strong vision for a more vibrant community.The Harvard Sustainability Plan, developed in consultation with a wide range of University stakeholders, seeks to build on our progress.