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At the European University Forum LLU pledge to promoting the transition to climate neutrality

The annual Rectors and Deans Forum of Association for European Life Science Universities took place in Leuen, Belgium, on 21 and 22 October, highlighting the role of universities in promoting climate-neutral practices and developing a sustainable bioeconomy. Rector Irina Pilvere represented LLU and together with other European colleagues signed a communique on the role of life sciences universities in the transition to climate neutrality.

Leaders of European Life Science Universities believe that climate change needs to be addressed as urgently and with the same determination as the Covid-19 pandemic. The necessary global response is the transition of the whole society from the current economy to a green, circular economy, centered on a sustainable bioeconomy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Universities have a leading role to play in these processes, as the transition is not possible without higher education, research and innovation.

Therefore, LLU together with other European Life Science Universities is committed to becoming a role model in implementing climate-neutral practices and promoting understanding of climate change and transition paths in Latvia by improving its study programs and providing students who are prospective professionals and decision makers with all available information on the transition of society to climate neutrality, its necessity, means and ways.

An important factor is the commitment to strengthen research and the search for integrated climate neutrality solutions by developing concrete pathways to a sustainable bio-economy. In addition, universities will work more actively with agriculture, food, biological, marine, forestry and other economic and societal actors and sectors to help implement specific products, technologies, activities and practices that significantly reduce the impact on climate change.

“The activities of LLU during the last twenty years are characterized by purposeful work in achieving the goals of sustainable development. We have integrated the understanding of the balance of environmental, social and economic factors in various study courses as a horizontal priority in both life sciences and engineering and social sciences programs. In addition, we have expanded our research into the bioeconomy, participated in the development of the Latvian Bioeconomy Strategy and implemented the functions entrusted to the state in the accounting of GHG emissions. All these actions are aimed at achieving climate neutrality. With the signing of the communique together with other European Life Science Universities, we will further strengthen and include climate change in studies and research in the Development Strategy of the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies for the coming years,”says Irina Pilvere, Rector of LLU.

The communique of the rectors of European Life Science Universities is based on the threat posed to humanity by climate change and the need for targeted and urgent action. A statement released by the forum said scientists had warned the world of the dangers of global warming and climate change 40 years ago, but society has been too slow to intervene and respond to them. The latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports for 2014, 2018 and 2021 reveal that people are facing unprecedented threats to their lives on Earth due to global warming caused by the burning of fossil resources and land use systems. The concentration and level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution, trapping heat in the atmosphere and thus raising global temperatures.

In addition, agriculture and food systems have contributed and continue to contribute to climate change by a third of the global greenhouse gases emitted by human activity. Thus, the actions taken in this decade up to 2030 will determine the extent to which the global average temperature will increase by 2050. The current rise in temperature is already having a strong impact on weather systems, affecting food, water supplies and biodiversity.

The organizer of the forum is the Association for European Life Science Universities, which member has been LLU for several years. About 50 European universities specializing in life sciences are represented in the association. Among them are the Academy of Agriculture of Vytautas Magnus University and the Estonian University of Life Sciences, with which LLU forms the network of BOVA universities in the Baltic States.

Submitted on: 28/10/2021