In 1999, Southern Illinois University broke ground in sustainability, becoming the first institution of higher education in Illinois to sign the Talloires Declaration. With Chancellor Jo Ann Argersinger’s signature, SIU committed to mobilize its resources in order to address the problems and reverse the trends of environmental degradation. Fifteen years later, we are proud of this legacy and are committed to furthering the goals of the Declaration. Its full text is below:
We, the presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors of universities from all regions of the world are deeply concerned about the unprecedented scale and speed of environmental pollution and degradation, and the depletion of natural resources. Local, regional, and global air and water pollution; accumulation and distribution of toxic wastes; destruction and depletion of forests, soil, and water; depletion of the ozone layer and emission of “green house” gases threaten the survival of humans and thousands of other living species, the integrity of the earth and its biodiversity, the security of nations, and the heritage of future generations. These environmental changes are caused by inequitable and unsustainable production and consumption patterns that aggravate poverty in many regions of the world.
We believe that urgent actions are needed to address these fundamental problems and reverse the trends. Stabilization of human population, adoption of environmentally sound industrial and agricultural technologies, reforestation, and ecological restoration are crucial elements in creating an equitable and sustainable future for all humankind in harmony with nature.
Universities have a major role in the education, research, policy formation, and information exchange necessary to make these goals possible. Thus, university leaders must initiate and support mobilization of internal and external resources so that their institutions respond to this urgent challenge.
We, therefore, agree to take the following actions:
1. Increase Awareness of Environmentally Sustainable Development
Use every opportunity to raise public, government, industry, foundation, and university awareness by openly addressing the urgent need to move toward an environmentally sustainable future.
2. Create an Institutional Culture of Sustainability
Encourage all universities to engage in education, research, policy formation, and information exchange on population, environment, and development to move toward global sustainability.
3. Educate for Environmentally Responsible Citizenship
Establish programs to produce expertise in environmental management, sustainable economic development, population, and related fields to ensure that all university graduates are environmentally literate and have the awareness and understanding to be ecologically responsible citizens.
4. Foster Environmental Literacy For All
Create programs to develop the capability of university faculty to teach environmental literacy to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
5. Practice Institutional Ecology
Set an example of environmental responsibility by establishing institutional ecology policies and practices of resource conservation, recycling, waste reduction, and environmentally sound operations.
6. Involve All Stakeholders
Encourage involvement of government, foundations, and industry in supporting interdisciplinary research, education, policy formation, and information exchange in environmentally sustainable development. Expand work with community and nongovernmental organizations to assist in finding solutions to environmental problems.
7. Collaborate for Interdisciplinary Approaches
Convene university faculty and administrators with environmental practitioners to develop interdisciplinary approaches to curricula, research initiatives, operations, and outreach activities that support an environmentally sustainable future.
8. Enhance Capacity of Primary and Secondary Schools
Establish partnerships with primary and secondary schools to help develop the capacity for interdisciplinary teaching about population, environment, and sustainable development.
9. Broaden Service and Outreach Nationally and Internationally
Work with national and international organizations to promote a worldwide university effort toward a sustainable future.
10. Maintain the Movement
Establish a Secretariat and a steering committee to continue this momentum, and to inform and support each other’s efforts in carrying out this declaration.