Leiden University: Covid influences sustainability at Leiden University too in 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has had us working and studying at home, and this has had a positive effect on Leiden University’s sustainability results. This is apparent from the university’s new Sustainability Report 2020. The report also shows that nearly all the targets from the Environmental Policy Plan 2016-2020 have been achieved.

From mid-March onwards the Covid pandemic changed everything. Our students and staff mainly worked and studied at home, and the university cafés and restaurant were closed, as was the Sports Centre. This made a difference at the university on all fronts: in gas, water and electricity consumption, and in the amount of waste produced, as the Sustainability Report reveals.

The decrease in business trips and commuting also meant sustainability gains. The figures show a clear reduction in the university’s CO2 footprint in 2020. This decreased by 30% compared to 2019.

Targets achieved
Work continued unabated in 2020 to improve processes and implement measures to promote sustainability. The main targets from the Sustainability Vision, which the university began work on in 2016, have been achieved:

The university’s environmental impact is in line with that of other broad-based universities;
The university’s environmental and sustainability policy is more visible to students and staff, and their participation in this has increased. A sustainability network was launched in 2020, for instance, with 150 staff members signing up. The Leiden University Green Office, which is run by students, has a strong presence and has started many projects;
By achieving 31 of the 37 sub-objectives, the university has more than halved its CO2 footprint. Twenty-eight per cent of this was achieved by actually reducing the total emissions. The remaining reduction was due to purchasing compensation certificates.
New sustainability vision almost ready
Work on a new sustainability vision for the university for the years up to 2030 got off to a flying start at the beginning of 2020. But before the summer the decision had been made to postpone the university’s strategic plan, which the sustainability vision is part of, by a year because of the pandemic. Work was resumed in 2021 and the new sustainability vision is expected to be presented after the summer as part of the new strategic plan.

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