Sustainable Development Goals at the University of Bayreuth
With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted in 2015, the global community under the umbrella of the United Nations committed itself to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The guiding principle of the 2030 Agenda is to enable people around the world to live in dignity and at the same time to preserve the natural foundations of life in the long term. This includes economic, ecological, and social aspects. In this context, the 2030 Agenda emphasizes the shared responsibility of all actors: Politics, Business, Science, Civil Society – and every individual.
With the adoption of its sustainability strategy, the University of Bayreuth seeks to contribute to achieving the 17 SDGs.
3. Good Health and Well-Being
Access to good medical care, life-saving vaccines, and medications are prerequisites for a healthy life. The University of Bayreuth offers all students, employees, and residents of the local community a wide range of preventive care, educational programmes, and support for health-related and psychological problems.
4. Quality Education
Providing access to education and imparting knowledge through teaching is the core task of universities. For this reason, the University of Bayreuth not only offers its students high-quality teaching content, but at the same time also enables the general public to access subject-specific knowledge through freely accessible facilities, public lectures, and events.
5. Gender Equality
Due to its wide range of courses, the University of Bayreuth has had a balanced gender ratio among its students for years. Since the University of Bayreuth sees gender equality as a cross-sectional task at all levels, the University Governing Board takes specific decisions to ensure that this balance is also achieved among lecturers and researchers. For more than 25 years, the Women's Representative has supported the University Governing Board in implementing gender equality. In order to further establish the promotion of equality, the Equal Opportunities and Diversity service units were also created, which actively promote awareness of this issue among the campus community.
7. Affordable and clean energy
A significant contribution to climate protection is made through energy efficiency and a switch to renewable energies. The University of Bayreuth intends to optimize the energy demand for heating and ventilation as well as to expand the energy supply (electricity/heat) through more efficient combined heat and power plants and from renewable energies in combination with storage systems. The research cooperation through the Centre for Energy Technology and the collaboration with the Bavarian Centre for Battery Technology (BayBatt) also represent an important cornerstone for the research and transfer of energy-efficient technologies.
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
The University of Bayreuth actively promotes the innovative strength of its students and researchers. In addition, the transfer of knowledge and the support of entrepreneurship strengthen local and national industry and infrastructure. To this end, an institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has been established, whose portfolio includes an extensive range of lectures, events, and workshops.
Additionally, the forum1.5 addresses business, entrepreneurs, and employees, to work on concrete ideas, concepts, and processes in the region on how the economy can satisfy the necessary needs of people, serve the common good and create sustainable prosperity that remains in harmony with the natural basis of life.
11. Sustainable cities and communities
Universities have an educational mission – not only towards their university members but also towards stakeholders in the surrounding cities and communities. In relation to sustainability, the goal as a university is to contribute to making cities and communities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. One field of action of the University of Bayreuth’s Sustainability Strategy is the "Third Mission", i.e. the mutual exchange between the University of Bayreuth and the surrounding economy, science, culture, society, and politics. The University of Bayreuth allows public access to its buildings (e.g. libraries), its grounds and green spaces – such as the Botanical Garden. Through various cultural events, a mutual cultural exchange takes place, e.g. in the context of concerts, cinema, and theatre. In addition, the Studentenwerk Oberfranken, which is located at the University, provides affordable housing for students.
15. Life on land
The number of species is declining dramatically worldwide, according to the 2019 report of the United Nations World Biodiversity Council. Of eight million animal and plant species, one million are threatened with extinction. Studies in Germany show that, for example, the biomass of insects in German protected areas has declined by 75% over the last thirty years, and that the biomass, abundance, and species numbers of arthropods (i.e. insects, arachnids and millipedes) have declined significantly across regions over the last ten years. This insect mortality has a massive impact on many other animal and plant species via the food chain and ecosystem functions of insects, such as pollination. Above all, loss of land and intensification of land use are held responsible for the decline in biodiversity in the landscape.
This is where the expertise of the University of Bayreuth is in demand: Dr Stephanie Thomas, postdoc at the Chair of Biogeography, is working at the World Biodiversity Council IPBES to ensure that politics and society also become aware of species extinction. At IPBES, she serves as lead author for Chapter 3 of the upcoming "Nexus Assessment", the report assessing the linkages between biodiversity, water, food and health.
Meanwhile at the University of Bayreuth: Prof. Dr. Christian Laforsch, in cooperation with Jürgen Franke (Buildings & Grounds Maintenance) and Green Campus, wanted to preserve biodiversity and initiated the designation of 15 biodiversity areas on the University of Bayreuth campus in 2016 and the sowing of flowering mixes on parts of them in 2018. The aim was to maintain the sown flowering areas with a suitable mowing regime, to graze the large biodiversity areas in the long term and thus also convert them into species-rich flower meadows, and at the same time to offer insects as long a supply of flowers as possible throughout the summer.
Prof. Dr. Gerrit Begemann (Developmental Biology) and Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Obermaier (Ecological Botanical Garden), in cooperation with Thorsten Zickler from Buildings & Grounds Maintenance, have developed a suitable mowing regime for this purpose, which is based on the mowing practices of earlier, more extensive agriculture. Hay mowing was traditionally done in a first mowing at the end of June/beginning of July and a second mowing (Grummet) in September. The meadows were mown in small areas at different times so that a mosaic of flowering and mown meadows was available throughout the summer. Fallow land, margins, and uncultivated areas provided suitable habitats for overwintering.
Based on this, the biodiversity areas on campus are now mown half in early July and half in September. Partial mowing in the middle of the summer ensures a second flowering and thus an overall longer flowering period across the entire campus. Regular mowing and removal of the mown material are generally important in order to achieve a thinning of the areas and thus the development of a higher biodiversity of (less competitive) plant species, but mowing should not be too early or too frequent, at most once or twice a year. Meadows that are not mown at all show a significantly lower flower supply and become overgrown over time. As former farmland, the areas on campus are relatively rich in nutrients and at the same time, like all areas in this country, are exposed to a net nitrogen input from the air, which should be compensated for with the annual removal of the mown material ("leaching").
In addition to an insect-friendly mowing height of at least 5-10 cm, accompanying measures include leaving the areas mown in July and the borders of wooded areas standing over the winter and, on the initiative of the Central Technology Department, sowing three additional areas on campus with a native flower meadow mix (regioseed) in spring 2020.