In 1990, universities from all over the world signed a document that expressed their concern for the environment and outlined their commitment to expanding environmental education and following ecologically sound programs.
UCSB, under Barbara Uehling, followed suit a few years later, becoming the only school in the UC system to sign the Talloires Declaration, which was named for the French city where the universities met.
A decade later though, campus environmental groups say the agreement has been forgotten. Members of CalPIRG and the Environmental Advisory Board are working with students and professors from the Environmental Studies Program to design a project in response to the document and an audit filed by four graduate students from the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management last year.
“The declaration takes a multidisciplinary and holistic approach and up to this point it has been largely ignored,” EAB Co-Chair Adam Garcia said. “One of our goals is to bring it to the forefront and let the university know that it was signed.”
Leaders of CalPIRG and EAB have designed a task force composed of faculty, staff and students that will implement policies and practices and outline the path of the “Sustainable UCSB Project.”
Although no definitive decisions have been made, they plan on having the task force implemented within the next month.
“Right now we’re trying to figure out which way to go and what we want to accomplish,” UCSB CalPIRG Chair Megan Jennings said.
Already, the Sustainable University Project has set several short-term goals that include UCSB producing its own energy, absorbing its own waste and reducing its output of pollutants.
Part of the project’s mission statement is “to highlight and expand upon current policies that are environmentally sound, to research the most desirable and feasible alternatives to other current practices, and act as a model for sustainability for society at large.”
Garcia defined sustainability for the project as “living in a manner that doesn’t jeopardize the lifestyle of future generations. It involves consuming only as much as you need to and living in a way that is ecologically sound and environmentally just.”
Bren School Professor Jeff Dozier said he encouraged the four graduate students from Bren School to file the audit last year.
“In the Bren School, the master’s students do a yearlong group project involving 4-6 students instead of an individual thesis so I proposed one on ‘Greening UCSB’ for the 2001 class,” he said. “The idea was to take a look at the whole picture; building design, energy, waste management, air quality and transportation, water management, and landscape management, and both assess how we are doing and outline the policies and mechanisms by which the campus could improve.”
Both Jennings and Garcia stress the importance of getting students involved in the sustainability process.
“We’re considering making the task force an internship opportunity and a chance to earn units,” Garcia said. “This would be huge, the task force would be the governing body of the project.”
Because the project is still in the research stages, it is unclear how much money it will need or where the money will come from.
“We’re trying to find out what alternatives are out there,” Garcia said. “It’s up to the students to hold the university accountable for sustainability.”
The UCSB Sustainability Project will have a meeting today at 6 p.m. in South Hall 1430.