President Dekle’s Sustainability Agenda Echoes UN Environment Program for World Universities

President Dekle’s Sustainability Agenda Echoes UN Environment Program for World Universities

President Dekle’s avowed vision to make AUN sustainable for generations of students to come has found a global voice and support.

In a recent report, the United Nations Environment Office acknowledged the actions of “schools and universities leading by example and reducing carbon emissions, promoting renewable energy and becoming hotbeds of activism on the defining issue for a generation.”

Titled “First in Class: How Schools and Universities are Practicing What they Preach on Carbon Emission,” the UN Environment Office report, which first appeared on the UN agency’s website on May 14, 2019, lauded university administrators and student activists on leading proactive environment awareness programs.

“Across the world, UN Environment is working with universities to set up national and regional Green Universities Networks to enable institutions to incorporate low carbon-climate resilience development strategies and sustainability in education, training and campus operations.”

UN Environment has produced the Greening Universities Toolkit V.2.0 to inspire universities to develop strategies for green, resource-efficient and low carbon campuses.

In her inauguration speech as the fourth substantive President at the 2018 Commencement, President Dekle outlined a broad sustainability agenda to drive AUN’s ambition in change leadership in the coming years. She espoused a vision of AUN becoming part of a much larger, colorful tapestry, one that is part of a vibrant and active northeastern Nigeria corridor. 

“I believe our best way to show gratitude for this gift is to make AUN sustainable for generations of students to come. Our gift back to our Founder will be a sustainable AUN. It will require all of us to have an entrepreneurial and growth mindset,” the President had said.

As a follow-up, Dr. Dekle set up the President’s Sustainability Council (PSC), in the 2019 fall semester.  A vital first-step, the PSC operationalizes the President’s commitment to making sustainable practices a way of life at AUN.

The Vice President of Finance & Administration (VPFA), Olanipekun Olanrewaju heads the PSC while the Senior Director, Academic Budgeting and Finance, Office of the VPAA & Provost, Ms. Karin Rheeder, is Chief Sustainability Steward.

The Council, which combines the President’s Green Task Force for Sustainability and the President’s Collaboratory, will do some groundbreaking work this year,” President Dekle announced at the inauguration of the team that comprises senior management staff.

The AUN Sustainability Agenda has three core elements - financial, operational and environmental. The PSC addresses each core aspect, makes recommendations and carries out [new initiatives under the Office of the President.  AUN’s sustainability would be all-encompassing, with an initial mandate to define and operationalize sustainability practices across the entire campus community. AUN is ideally placed to become the thought leader in Nigeria, Africa and the world on educational organizational sustainability.

To further deepen the Sustainable Agenda, President Dekle hosted the community to a documentary screening of a natural history series “Our Planet” at the library auditorium toward the end of the 2019 spring semester.

The eight-part docuseries, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, explored the different human activities and their dimensions of impact on the fragile environment.

The event was part of the week-long Earth Day celebrations at AUN, which had the theme,

“Protect Our Species,” and featured poster display by students of the Natural & Environmental Science program showcasing the many endangered species of the world, highlighting the uniqueness and peculiarities of each animal, their natural habitations and threats they face via illicit trade, poaching, extraction, diseases, and loss of habitation due to pollution, environmental degradation, and climate change.

Over the years, AUN has created a vibrant Sustainability culture and ecosystem and inculcated in the members of its community values of healthy environmental activism. The Office of Sustainability and various pro-Green student organizations routinely organize sensitization programs and exhibitions to increase awareness of new sustainability techniques and attitudes. AUN’s Waste-to-Wealth initiatives have empowered more than 5,000 local women to practice sustainable waste conversion and generate more than ₦8 million in income for their own sustenance.  

Reported by Togor Passa