The collective voice of the world’s universities, colleges and students will be heard at COP21 when the United Nations Climate Change Conference takes place in Paris, France during the first week of December.

A global alliance of tertiary and higher education sustainability networks and associations, representing more than 3000 universities and colleges worldwide, today jointly issued an Open Letter urging Ministers and Governments to acknowledge and strengthen the research and education role that universities and colleges play in addressing climate change.

Signed by networks and associations on every continent, the Open Letter celebrates and confirms the critical role universities and colleges play in finding and implementing solutions towards climate change mitigation and adaptation, placing it in the context of addressing wider issues of sustainability, including social and economic policies and practices.

Addressed to COP21 Ministers and Governments the letter also calls for more specific measures to be taken such as showcasing universities and colleges as living laboratories for climate change adaptation and mitigation, increasing support for transdisciplinary learning, teaching and research approaches, and using university and college campuses and operations as a leverage agent to accelerate the transition to clean energy sources.

The Open Letter from the global alliance will be handed to COP21 General Secretary Pierre Henri Guignard on 14 October at the UNESCO Headquarters during the Higher Education for Climate Change Action Event. The event is hosted by The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative- HESI which was created by a consortium of UN entities UNESCO, UN-DESA, UNEP, Global Compact and UNU.

A copy of the letter is attached with this release. If you represent a university or college sustainability related network or association and wish to become a signatory to the Open Letter, please visit