At the Rio+20 conference the cooperation between science and policy was highlighted. A full list of recommendations was given in the “The Future We Want” outcome document, expressing the need for strengthening the collaboration between science and policy as well as the necessity of fostering international research collaboration so as to support sustainable development of society in the near future (paras. 48, 85(k), 88(d), United Nations General Assembly, 2012). Serving the same purpose, yet via different means the call for education for sustainable development was highlighted. Capacity building and development of sustainability competences are crucial for the present and future generations in terms of their acting and interacting in a sustainable manner (paras. 62, 229-235, United Nations General Assembly, 2012).
Through their education, research, and operations roles, higher education institutions (HEIs) create a societal impact that shows a strong potential to act as leverage point for sustainable development locally and globally (Sedlacek, 2011). They can be seen as essential drivers of education for sustainable development (ESD) and constitute fundamental vehicles to explore, test, develop and communicate conditions for transformative change (Rammel et al. 2015). Yet, in order to be truly transformative, higher education needs to transform itself (Fadeeva et al., 2014a; Rio+20 Treaty on Higher Education, 2015). Therefore, international as well as institutional stakeholders are demanded to rethink HEI and support policies that foster a substantial change in higher education for sustainable development.
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