Sustainability - Green Policy as a Challenge for the University of Crete

The challenges of sustainable development and the role of Universities 

Sustainability - Green Policy


Given the challenges of sustainable development, academics, policymakers, civil society and the business community recognize the potential and responsibility of Universities to make a positive impact on the environment, society and the economy in the light of sustainable development. In this context, there is a correspondingly strong interest for awareness raising and implementation of sustainable development practices by Universities. 

UNESCO, in The Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, argues that “Universities have intensified their efforts to support sustainable development, have made significant efforts for the sustainability of campus operations, and have introduced new programs and courses related to education for sustainable development and extend the value and impact of their teaching and research to local communities”. 

Moreover, the European Universities Association has confirmed that “Sustainable Development Goals clearly need strong social actors, such as universities, to ensure that they will be”. In particular, Universities have key responsibilities for issues such as quality education (SDG-4), industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG-9), affordable and clean energy (SDG-7), gender equality and reduced inequalities (SDG-5), sustainable cities and communities (SDG-11), peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG-16) and partnerships for SDGs (SDG-17).

For many universities around the world, the issue of sustainable development is no longer one of the many options available - it has become a necessary development strategy, which, however, requires redesigning their functions. 

The sustainable development roadmap at the University of Crete

Following international good practices, suggested by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the University of Crete puts efforts to initiate a roadmap towards its sustainable development structured in the following components:

1. Training and empowerment of students, through modern educational methods, to become leaders who will use their knowledge in order to create a sustainable impact.

2. Utilization of the University Campus to try innovative solutions to real challenges.

3. Awareness and promotion of best practices companies and organizations. 

University of Crete: Provision of expertise to local governance and the business community 

The University of Crete aims to be a consistent accelerator towards sustainable development in Crete. In this regard, Professors from the University of Crete with expertise in international, local and business aspects of sustainable development, support key local government institutions in Crete on the roadmap for the adoption and localization of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

In particular, Professors from the University of Crete provide their know-how to the Region of Crete, in the project “Adoption and Prioritization of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the Region of Crete” as well as in the Municipality of Heraklion, in the project “Sustainable Development Goals in the Municipality of Heraklion: Adoptation and links with entrepreneurship”. 

In this context, it is widely acknowledged that the role of business in sustainable development is core and that responsible local entrepreneurship works in addition to local government policies to achieve SDGs. Therefore, the localization of SDGs through the above projects is expected to highlight business opportunities in the dynamic fields of the local economy (tourism, culture, primary sector and its link to tourism).

Focusing to the local business community, the University of Crete implements:

  • Diagnosis of business opportunities in the context of locally adopted SDGs.
  • Responsible entrepreneurship training seminars for local small and medium enterprises.
  • Development of a management guide for responsible entrepreneurship for small and medium enterprises. 

University of Crete: International Summer School in Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility

The annual Summer School in Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (CSR School) aims to provide advanced training regarding the identification of sustainability-related business opportunities and the inclusion of responsibility in the core of one’s business strategy, in order to achieve sustainable value and formulate a more resilient organization.

The training program is envisioned as a journey that will cover all major identified areas that relate to the responsible management of sustainability.

The CSR School aims to provide advanced training to leading young researchers and professionals about:

1. The identification of sustainability-related business opportunities.

2. The inclusion of sustainability in the core of business strategy.

3. The ensuing responsible corporate management. 

Participants attend lectures from leading academic faculty members, discuss case studies presented by experienced senior professionals, and experiment with relevant business cases.

The CSR School is organized as a partnership between the University of Crete, CSR Hellas and ALBA Graduate Business School - The American College of Greece. 

By: Constantine Manasakis (Economist, MBA, PhD), Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Crete