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The future of campus sustainability

21 June 2013

Prof Koh delivering the opening keynote address

The award recipients for the ISCN Sustainable Campus Excellence Awards

Sustainability issues were at the forefront of this year's International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) Conference hosted by NUS from 18 to 20 June 2013. Themed "The Future is Now", 28 universities from 18 countries participated in the event.

Welcoming the guests, NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan shared about the University's sustainability endeavours. He highlighted how some of the facilities at NUS University Town - one of the latest green building projects on campus - have clinched environmental awards.

The University's commitment to sustainability can also be seen in its curriculum and research. For instance, NUS has rolled out a Bachelor of Environmental Studies for students with a passion for the environment. Going beyond formal education, student groups such as the NUS Student Union's Students Against Violation of the Earth are actively involved in promoting sustainable development.

In his opening keynote, Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-At-Large at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed that the "health and future of the earth depends on what we do and fail to do now". With the health of the earth being affected by global warming, climate change, loss of biodiversity and the over-exploitation of oceans, Prof Koh highlighted the challenges of tackling such environmental issues.

Prof Koh, who is also Rector of the Tembusu College at NUS, encouraged NUS to raise the bar with ways to enhance sustainability including making the entire campus a Green Mark Platinum district, optimising the energy efficiency of old buildings, and encouraging the use of bicycles.

An advocate of environmental protection and sustainable development, Prof Koh was honoured as a "Champion of the Earth" by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2006. He also received the inaugural President's Awards for the Environment in Singapore and numerous other accolades for his contributions.

During the three-day conference, topics discussed included the next generation of sustainability goals and engaging universities in the co-creation for urban sustainability.

Incepted in 2007, the ISCN offers a global forum for universities pursuing sustainability across their educational and research missions and operations.