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IAU Durban Conference, August 20-25, 2000
                                 11th General Conference: Universities as Gateway to the Future
                                                                              Plenary Panel III

Li Yuee
Vice-President, Shanxi University, China

 Introduction
I feel very privileged to be asked to act as a Rapporteur for Working Group 5. Our Working Group
focussed on 'Sustainable Development'. We all agree that Sustainable Development is vital for
human beings to survive. If countries are to develop in a sustainable way, we must have the capacity
to manage their natural resources effectively, address environmental issues and attend on the
environmental problems. This indicates that the sustainable ability cannot be achieved without
support of the people, knowledgeable and motivated, primarily through education and awareness, to
modify behaviour and life styles.
Since Sustainable Development is essential for healthy social development, we had very intense
discussions of we mean by Sustainable Development in relation to universities? What contributions
can universities make towards that direction? What are the problems and difficulties we are facing?
At the same time, a lot can be useful. The argument is made to maintain sustainable development
from both the broad sense and the university Sustainable Development itself. In order to say what
contribution universities can make to Sustainable Development, more than seven different declarations
and charges are adopted in the IAU and by some other organisations and agencies. That shows both
the importance of the issue and also shows various conceptual views and plans for action.
Definitions
One of the definitions we discussed and agreed upon is that to urge universities world-wide to seek,
establish and disseminate the declaration on the study of Sustainable Development. Developments
should meet the needs of the present without compromising the present and future generations. We
also agree with the definition provided by the Keynote Speaker from the World Bank yesterday. He
defined sustainability from economic, social and environmental aspects. He says sustainability
involves giving future generations as many opportunities as possible, if not more than we have had
ourselves. We all agreed, as it is easy and practical to follow.
Goals
To achieve what we adopted, the various charges and declarations for Sustainable Development which
we, as universities, can advance and approve for the use of scientific and other types of knowledge
and technologies to promote sustainable living and protect environment and assure that people,
through their lives, have an opportunity to acquire the knowledge, values and practical skills, which
are needed to build a sustainable community. Most of our Group participants strongly proposed that
we have to have Sustainable Development programme in our universities. We should try to meet the
needs of increasing demands for opportunities to study in universities. At the same time, we should
retain excellence and quality. We can implement sustainable development in our decision-making
process in various areas: philosophy of the university, curriculum design, teaching practice and
research to prepare new generations for Sustainable Development. We can also act as a role model for
society in drawing attention to sustainable development. However, it is not an easy job as we
discussed the difficulties and problems. There are no clearer communications between governments
and the universities. Different interpretations for Sustainable Development exist and the rules
universities can play in these aspects differ also.
Obstacles
There is a lack of demonstrations, showing ways to transformation scientific and other type of
knowledge for Sustainable Development and to do so in ways that are meaningful, practical and which
may be implemented for the benefit of society. Unbalanced development between North and South
developing countries which may be attributed to various reasons is one obstacle. Insufficient
infrastructure for universities to undertake an action for Sustainable Development is another.
Summary and Recommendations
Finally, some useful remarks were made for solving the problems and difficulties. Our sustainable
future depends strongly on the collective efforts of all human beings and organizations. Thus,
integration of government policy-making with the philosophy of the university plus society's support
will be essential. Sustainable Development cannot only be undertaken from the university level
alone. It should start at the very beginning of education and move from teaching to research, from
knowledge to transmission. Skill acquisition as well as communications, are important. The
universities of the world form a strong link to promote interdisciplinary network of experts at local,
national, regional and international levels. Their aim should be to collaborate on common projects in
both research and education to develop strategies and action plans.
Finally, we all think that IAU may serve as the platform to promote cooperation between Members to
fulfil the task we have analysed and discussed and help us to solve the problems we face. I think, with
joint efforts, our universities we can seize the opportunity to achieve the goals involved in developing
a sustainable future.

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Durban p3 li yuee

  • 1. IAU Durban Conference, August 20-25, 2000 11th General Conference: Universities as Gateway to the Future Plenary Panel III Li Yuee Vice-President, Shanxi University, China Introduction I feel very privileged to be asked to act as a Rapporteur for Working Group 5. Our Working Group focussed on 'Sustainable Development'. We all agree that Sustainable Development is vital for human beings to survive. If countries are to develop in a sustainable way, we must have the capacity to manage their natural resources effectively, address environmental issues and attend on the environmental problems. This indicates that the sustainable ability cannot be achieved without support of the people, knowledgeable and motivated, primarily through education and awareness, to modify behaviour and life styles. Since Sustainable Development is essential for healthy social development, we had very intense discussions of we mean by Sustainable Development in relation to universities? What contributions can universities make towards that direction? What are the problems and difficulties we are facing? At the same time, a lot can be useful. The argument is made to maintain sustainable development from both the broad sense and the university Sustainable Development itself. In order to say what contribution universities can make to Sustainable Development, more than seven different declarations and charges are adopted in the IAU and by some other organisations and agencies. That shows both the importance of the issue and also shows various conceptual views and plans for action. Definitions One of the definitions we discussed and agreed upon is that to urge universities world-wide to seek, establish and disseminate the declaration on the study of Sustainable Development. Developments should meet the needs of the present without compromising the present and future generations. We also agree with the definition provided by the Keynote Speaker from the World Bank yesterday. He defined sustainability from economic, social and environmental aspects. He says sustainability involves giving future generations as many opportunities as possible, if not more than we have had ourselves. We all agreed, as it is easy and practical to follow. Goals To achieve what we adopted, the various charges and declarations for Sustainable Development which we, as universities, can advance and approve for the use of scientific and other types of knowledge and technologies to promote sustainable living and protect environment and assure that people, through their lives, have an opportunity to acquire the knowledge, values and practical skills, which are needed to build a sustainable community. Most of our Group participants strongly proposed that we have to have Sustainable Development programme in our universities. We should try to meet the needs of increasing demands for opportunities to study in universities. At the same time, we should retain excellence and quality. We can implement sustainable development in our decision-making process in various areas: philosophy of the university, curriculum design, teaching practice and research to prepare new generations for Sustainable Development. We can also act as a role model for society in drawing attention to sustainable development. However, it is not an easy job as we discussed the difficulties and problems. There are no clearer communications between governments and the universities. Different interpretations for Sustainable Development exist and the rules universities can play in these aspects differ also. Obstacles There is a lack of demonstrations, showing ways to transformation scientific and other type of knowledge for Sustainable Development and to do so in ways that are meaningful, practical and which may be implemented for the benefit of society. Unbalanced development between North and South developing countries which may be attributed to various reasons is one obstacle. Insufficient infrastructure for universities to undertake an action for Sustainable Development is another. Summary and Recommendations Finally, some useful remarks were made for solving the problems and difficulties. Our sustainable
  • 2. future depends strongly on the collective efforts of all human beings and organizations. Thus, integration of government policy-making with the philosophy of the university plus society's support will be essential. Sustainable Development cannot only be undertaken from the university level alone. It should start at the very beginning of education and move from teaching to research, from knowledge to transmission. Skill acquisition as well as communications, are important. The universities of the world form a strong link to promote interdisciplinary network of experts at local, national, regional and international levels. Their aim should be to collaborate on common projects in both research and education to develop strategies and action plans. Finally, we all think that IAU may serve as the platform to promote cooperation between Members to fulfil the task we have analysed and discussed and help us to solve the problems we face. I think, with joint efforts, our universities we can seize the opportunity to achieve the goals involved in developing a sustainable future.