AURAK joins founding universities in the newly launched ‘Nature Positive Universities Alliance’ to improve ecological footprint

The ambitious global initiative, spearheaded by UNEP and the University of Oxford, was announced at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal 

Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, December 8, 2022: The American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) has joined the founding universities in the Nature Positive Universities Alliance – a global network of universities committed to the goal to halt, prevent and reverse nature loss through addressing their own impacts and restoring ecosystems harmed by their activities.

The global initiative, spearheaded by the University of Oxford and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), was launched today at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15), to drive the world’s higher education sector towards a nature-positive future as part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a movement to avert climate catastrophe and mass extinction.

Through the Nature Positive Universities Alliance, 111 Universities have taken an official pledge and begun assessing their environmental impact, in order to make tailored actions to improve their ecological footprint on the planet.

Prof. Stephen Clark White, Provost of AURAK, commented: “The American University of Ras Al Khaimah is excited to join this global initiative that has been launched to bring together higher education institutions to use their unique power and influence as drivers of positive change. We believe that academic institutions can help mold government policies on environmental conservation, can collaborate with community partners in addressing critical issues like climate change, and can enlist students as innovators and entrepreneurs motivated to sustain Earth as an inhabitable planet for humankind for centuries into the future.”

Dr. Hamed Assaf, Associate Dean of the School of Engineering, AURAK, said: “We are proud to be a founding member of this far-reaching campaign that will definitely propel the higher education sector to address and mitigate its impact on the environment. AURAK’s campus is situated in a unique landscape where desert, mountains, and coastal areas meet. We plan to raise awareness among the AURAK community of the campus’ impact on the surrounding ecosystem, and the role they can play to protect and enhance the resilience of this ecosystem to the impact of current urban development and impending climatic changes. We will conduct a review of our operations and supply chain in line of the measures recommended by the alliance to accentuate the education sector’s role in nature conservation.”

The Nature Positive Universities Alliance began as a partnership between UNEP and the University of Oxford’s Department of Biology. The University of Oxford has an environmental sustainability strategy with dual targets of net zero carbon and a net gain in biodiversity by 2035. It aims to reach closer to its goal through collaboration and idea-sharing with other universities via the Nature Positive Universities Alliance.

The initiative launched with 111 universities from 44 countries that have made individual pledges to start a journey towards becoming nature positive. University pledges include four key elements: 1) Carrying out baseline assessments; 2) Setting specific, time limited and measurable targets for nature; 3) Taking bold action to reduce biodiversity impacts, protect and restore species and ecosystems, while influencing others to do the same; 4) Transparent annual reporting.

A further 408 universities are a part of the wider network, playing their role in bringing their universities closer to an official nature positive pledge, by developing research, lobbying their senior management and sharing case studies of their activities.

The network also includes a Student Ambassador Programme, which totals over 100 students from across 35 countries, who are taking action toward nature positive awareness and approaches on their campuses. They are encouraging their universities to make an official pledge, through advocacy, organization of nature-positive activities such as volunteering for nature restoration, establishment of sapling nurseries and using their studies to further advance their institutions’ sustainability.