Did you know?
The "Did you know?" sections are designed to help students better understand some of the major themes of sustainable development by providing key figures.
The 21st century is full of challenges to achieving sustainable development. Over the past decades, a variety of positive initiatives have emerged around the world, from the smallest individual or small business to the largest international companies. This section takes stock of the most emblematic of them.
Did you know that in 2015 the international community committed itself to a Global Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2030?
The Global Agenda is a project for a profound transformation of human activities to get back on the path of sustainable and inclusive development in 2030.
It is a collective global project of historic significance that commits the 193 Member States of the United Nations. Its vocation is universal. The international community is called upon to assume collective responsibility for a model of sustainable development to be bequeathed to future generations. This international ambition is broken down into 17 objectives (called the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, 17 SDOs) which cover the global problems on which the survival of Humanity depends. The challenge for each State is now to transform these 17 objectives into concrete and ambitious projects with all the actors in its territory.
What does ULiège do?
ULiège acknowledges its responsibility in building a model of sustainable development and wishes to become a committed and innovative actor by placing the 17 Sustainable Development Objectives of the Global Agenda at the heart of its activities.
The Green Office was created with the mission to link and support students for projects in favour of sustainable development.
Sources: sustainabledevelopment.un.org, sdgs.be
Want to learn more about your environmental footprint in general?
Did you know that humanity consumes the equivalent of 1.75 planets?
This means that the earth is being overtaken by the acceleration of human activities: the current demand for biologically productive surfaces (forests, meadows, ...) needed to produce our resources and absorb our waste exceeds the available renewable capacity. To be more precise, this implies that the Earth needs one year and 8 months to regenerate what has been used in one year by mankind. We are therefore consuming resources that will not be renewable and are depleting the Earth's capital, endangering Humanity.
What does the Green Office do?
The Green Office is developing a project to distribute a Sustainable Welcome Pack that will give students tips and tricks to consume sustainably.
During the next academic year, challenges to reduce our environmental footprint will be proposed on a Commitment Platform.
In the first challenge, the Green Office will invite students to calculate their environmental footprint. This will allow each one to identify in their consumption habits those that have the biggest impact on the use of terrestrial ecosystems.
Footprint Calculator: https://www.footprintcalculator.org/
Then, students will be able to set goals, alone or in teams, to gradually reduce their footprint.
Sources: Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day, La Libre
All our actions in daily life, the activities of private companies, public services, ... produce emissions that contribute to climate change. Numerous initiatives are being developed around the world to reduce our carbon footprint.
Did you know that each Belgian citizen emits, on average, 12 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year?
With 144 million tonnes of CO2 emitted in Belgium in 2017 and 11.4 million inhabitants, each Belgian would emit an average of 10 tonnes of CO2 per year. However, this figure needs to be revised upwards. Indeed, some of the goods consumed by Belgians are not directly produced in Belgium but are imported, particularly from China, and this must be taken into account when calculating the carbon footprint. We would therefore arrive at 16 tonnes per person and per year! From this, we have to subtract the goods and services not paid for by consumers (public services, education, etc.). The total carbon footprint on which the Belgian consumer has a grip still amounts to 12 tons of CO2 per person and per year! By way of comparison, the world average is 4.8 tonnes of CO2 per person per year.
What can we do about it?
There are many ways to reduce your personal CO2 emissions. Here are a few examples:
Sources: Ecoconso, Ritchie, H. & Rosser, M. (2017)
Food plays a central role in our daily lives. What are the impacts of our eating habits and how can we reduce them? Want to learn more?
Did you know that food represents between 20 and 50% of our environmental footprint?
A food has an environmental impact throughout its life cycle: production of raw materials, manufacturing or processing, transport and distribution, use, waste. A quarter of our carbon footprint is due to our food, with the production of animal proteins having the greatest impact in this footprint.
As an example, let's compare two different menus and look at the impact in kg of carbon dioxide emitted:
Let's also note that our food also has a social impact: on our health, on the fair remuneration of producers, ...
What does the Green Office do?
Through the Court-Circuit project, the Green Office wants to raise awareness about sustainable food among students and support them in this way.
To do this, it develops educational tools (including recipes) to help everyone make food choices with a better understanding of their impact on health, society and the environment.
The Green Office will also promote the distribution of baskets of fruit and vegetables from local farmers.
Water is one of the most precious resources on Earth. Want to learn more?
Did you know that the Earth is 70% water?
Moreover, only 3% of this water is fresh water and 0.5% is accessible to humans. It is therefore important to protect and save water! The tap water we consume at home represents 4% of our total consumption. The remaining 96% forms the hidden footprint. For example, it is the water used to grow the fruit and vegetables we consume, to irrigate cotton fields, to manufacture our electronic devices, ...
What can we do?
Some foods are heavy consumers of water and should be avoided. For example, it takes 1000 litres of water to grow 1 kilo of avocados (2 to 3 avocados). The same applies to pistachios (11,363 L/kg), figs (3,350 L/kg) and dates (2,277 L/kg). Fruits and vegetables such as strawberries (343L/kg), tomatoes (214L/kg), lettuce (237L/kg) and carrots (195L/kg) are best eaten when in season.
Through the Short Circuit project, the Green Office will provide educational tools that will allow everyone to learn about the water impact of common food products.
Sources: planetteviable.org, Our Hidden Footprint, nouvelobs.com, futura-sciences.com
More and more waste is being produced and dumped around the world. This obviously poses many problems. But how big is this problem and what solutions are being implemented to solve it? Find out in this section!
Did you know that in 2016, 53 kg of plastic per capita was generated worldwide?
This means that a total of 356 million tons were generated in 2016 and ⅓ was in the wild! 50% are used for single-use consumption. 75% of the plastic already produced is now waste when it could be recycled.
2 former students of the University of Liège, Maxime and Cyril, have created a sustainable alternative to disposable plastic and wooden cutlery called Ecopoon. This ecological cutlery, made from wheat or grain flour, is practical, resistant and edible!
Sources: WWF, Zerowaste France, ecopoon.be
The circular economy is developing in response to the urgency of environmental challenges. When sustainable development rhymes with innovation and business success!
Did you know that 300 grams of gold are found in 1 ton of mobile phones?
Mobile phones and other electronic devices contain many metals such as tin, gold, silver, zinc, aluminium and many others. It is more efficient to extract all these materials from old electronic devices than from new natural sources. In fact, 300 grams of gold are found in 1 ton of old mobile phones, whereas only 5 grams of gold are found in 1 ton of gold ore. Hence the importance of recycling old mobile phones!
What does the Green Office do?
Through its "GSM2life" project, the Green Office will organise collections of mobile phones and other electronic devices in partnership with a waste collection company. The components of these electronic devices will then be separated and reused or recycled.
Despite the challenging figures, these news are resolutely positive through the highlighting of initiatives helping to meet the various challenges of sustainable development, at ULiège, near us and elsewhere in the world.