sustainability

Staff, faculty and students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln can give feedback on a draft of the Environment, Sustainability and Resilience Master Plan, which aims to create a more sustainable and resilient campus by implementing durable environmental practices.

A draft of the master plan, created by the Chancellor’s Environmental, Sustainability and Resilience Commission, is available online through Friday, May 29. UNL staff, faculty and students are encouraged to go through and give feedback

The feedback should show what UNL staff, faculty and students would like to see changed in the plan, especially regarding the action plans, which identify specific concerns such as waste management, according to David Gosselin, co-chair of the commission and director of the sustainability initiative and environmental studies. 

Gosselin said the commission will review the feedback and decide what will be integrated into the plan, then create measurable objectives and strategies on how to address the concerns.

“As being part of the university community, we should be serving as a model for resources and for a safe and healthy environment,” he said.

Sustainability is a very broad concept, Gosselin said, and one of the commission’s goals was to address how sustainability could relate to social, economic and environmental systems without failing under pressure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous stress for these systems, according to Gosselin. The master plan aims to build resilience at UNL, so the environmental practices do not collapse when such problems arise.

Gosselin and Prabhakar Shrestha, the other co-chair of the commission and director of sustainability, helped construct the master plan along with the nearly 70 members of the commission.

Gosselin said the master plan combines elements of UNL’s N2025 Strategic Plan and N150 Committee Report, as well as the United Nations Foundation’s sustainable development goals. These elements, as well as ideas from commission members, help create a framework for UNL to focus on better sustainability and longevity within environmental systems on campus.

People all over the world are fighting against climate change, Shrestha said, so he and Gosselin felt they could bring the UNL community together to create plans and goals to lessen the effects of climate change.

The co-chairs said they wanted to utilize available resources at UNL and give a voice to everyone on campus.

“We want to promote the environmental, social and economic well-being of Nebraska through the university’s socially responsible stewardship and use of resources,” Gosselin said.

UNL’s master plan stands out, Shrestha said, because the entire UNL community has to utilize its expertise and passion while working toward the common goal of a more sustainable campus without outside assistance. 

Creation of the master plan began in August of 2019, during a two-day workshop aimed at starting the plan. Commission members split up into seven action teams that were each responsible for coming up with a plan or series of plans, according to Gosselin.

He said the ideas thought up over those two days were combined to create a larger document, which included eight action plans in total.

The commission will continue to seek feedback on the master plan through Friday, May 29. Shrestha said it is imperative to hear from the campus community on what can be done to make UNL more sustainable, environmentally friendly and resilient. 

“We felt the pulse of the people, and we wanted to find the balance between lots of interests,” Shrestha said. “It was very important trying to engage as many people in the conversation as possible.”

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