Ca’ Foscari University of Venice has always paid attention to environmental issues. In 2010 it inaugurated an environmental, social and economic sustainability programme; it pioneered the calculation of carbon emissions at university; now it takes its actions another step forward by adopting a Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategy (in Italian, Piano di Ateneo di mitigazione e adattamento ai cambiamenti climatici, or PMA) which was recently approved by the Academic Senate.
Ca’ Foscari is the first university in Italy to produce this kind of document, following the lead of international universities such as the University of Cambridge and Boston University. The Scientific Panel was composed of professors Francesco Bosello, Wilmer Pasut and Elena Semenzin, with the support of Martina Gonano from the Sustainability Office. The Strategy, which is the first to be adopted by an Italian university, sets forth a series of actions and a feasible programme for the reduction of the university’s carbon footprint, with the goal of reaching carbon neutrality in 2050, as well as to improve the university’s resilience to the main climate stressors that is it already subjected to, and that are likely to increase in the coming decades.
The three-year-long plan involves various actions, targeting different areas of intervention: “buildings and equipment”, “other spaces”, “mobility”, “materials”, and “awareness”. For example, in the “buildings” area, Ca’ Foscari will develop a system to centralise and monitor data collection related to building management; it will consider strategies for the use of electricity coming from renewable energy sources; it will improve the temperature control system, connecting it to the actual presence of people in the room.
As regards “materials”, the university will reduce waste further and improve the efficiency of the recycling system that has been in place for years. Another aim is to collect data on water consumption to calculate the university’s water footprint and consider possible uses for rainwater.
As for “mobility”, the university will promote collaboration with the Municipality and public transport companies to promote sustainable mobility and convenient prices.
Regarding “awareness”, Ca’ Foscari will organise seminars open to the public and communication campaigns to inform people about the impact of their actions, in order to help everyone become more aware and sensitive to our impact on climate, and to promote more sustainable practices.”
"We have set up a Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategy to take action,” says Tiziana Lippiello, Rector of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. “As a community of approximately 25,000 people, we can contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions and to the mitigation of climate change. This is an emergency that everyone is called to respond to. Ca' Foscari has been committed to sustainability for over ten years, having signed the Sustainability Commitments Charter in 2010. I am pleased to witness the dedication of our students who promoted the Climate Emergency Declaration, which was highly appreciated by the Academic Senate. Sustainability will continue to be central to the university's policies and development actions."
“The Scientific Board has adapted the guidelines that the European Environment Agency has set forth on its Climate-ADAPT platform to the context of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice,” says Elena Semenzin, Rector’s Delegate for Sustainability. “These guidelines support the development and implementation of adaptation policies. Moreover, the Scientific Board has followed the guidelines proposed by the University Network for Sustainable Development (Rete delle Università per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile), which Ca’ Foscari joined in 2016, and the inspiring principles of the University Quality Assurance System — simplicity, efficacy, leadership, personal engagement, timeliness, computerisation, dissemination and transparency. Our work has been inspired by international benchmarks and we aim to complete this task in collaboration with the main stakeholders in this territory, such as the Municipality of Venice.”
Climate Emergency Declaration
Another important step for the university is the Climate Emergency Declaration which was recently shared by the Academic Senate to denounce this emergency. The document was redacted by the students of Ca’ Foscari and involved students of all levels, as well as teaching staff and technical-administrative staff.
Ca’ Foscari’s Climate Emergency Declaration differs from similar initiatives in Italian and international universities, because the document, in addition to requesting an explicit assumption of responsibility for climate change, requires that the university undertake more definite and concrete actions both inside and outside its community.