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  • Sustainability Report 2023


    Campus of Bielefeld University
    Bielefeld University


As an educational and research institution, Bielefeld University has set out to support the transformation towards a sustainability-oriented society through teaching and research (see "External sustainability-related target agreements & internal recommendations for action"). With almost 24,500 students and around 3,500 employees, Bielefeld University is the size of a small town. This makes sustainable development at the university a very complex task. The following agreements, structures and networks have been developed for this purpose:

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Incentives for more sustainability

Sustainability at Bielefeld University is largely characterised by the active self-management and joint involvement of every single member of the university. Last year, Bielefeld University set up incentive systems and funding opportunities for sustainable action in various areas in order to recognise and support these efforts:

These incentive systems are continuously being developed.

External target agreements / Internal sustainability-related guidelines

The university's sustainability strategy and sustainability mission statement are the result of the intensive commitment of many university members, who have formulated clear and ambitious goals based on the university's strengths. External sustainability-related guidelines and target agreements define the framework conditions. These include, for example, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda, the statement on sustainability by the German Rectors' Conference, the German Sustainability Strategy, the Climate Neutral State Administration (KNLV) and the Climate Protection Act of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, which was passed by the state parliament on 1 July 2021. In addition, Bielefeld University has agreed to the "Strengthening study and teaching" future agreement of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the side letter, an addendum to the NRW 2021 university agreement, which explicitly includes a commitment to sustainability.

Bielefeld University is also subject to the obligations of various university agreements and contracts. The Higher Education Agreement NRW 2026 forms the basis for cooperation between the state and the university and secures its development and funding. The university agreement stipulates that universities develop strategies and measures for sustainable university development. Sustainability is understood as a cross-cutting issue that is taken into account by the universities in the core areas of teaching, research and transfer. This concern is underpinned by a side letter to the Higher Education Agreement 2021, in which the universities undertake to report on the identification of measures, initiatives and the status quo of their strategy for sustainable development as well as their involvement in external networks.

In addition, Bielefeld University is required to comply with specified energy standards in the building sector with regard to new construction and renovation measures and in most cases goes well beyond the minimum requirements of the Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV) and the Building Energy Act (GEG). All specific measures for energy and resource efficiency can be found in the respective subject areas in the Operation section.

These guidelines provide a framework for actively shaping the sustainability strategy at the university. Internal guidelines and procedures are based on this, which are intended to ensure a more sustainable use of resources, for example: The most recent example is an adaptation of the university's travel guidelines, which is currently being drafted. The guidelines are intended to take into account aspects of climate-friendly travel by excluding funding for certain short-haul flights and levying a climate levy per flight.

In addition, Bielefeld University is in the process of developing measures to reduce paper consumption and climate-friendly construction.

As part of the implementation of the sustainability mission statement, possibilities for further guidelines are being explored. As sustainability is seen as a shared responsibility at Bielefeld University, the university also relies on the individual responsibility of each and every member of the university.

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