The fast diminishing natural resource base of the world, on the one hand, and the collapse of the cycles of nature, on the other, both as a result of human activity, have brought sustainability to the forefront of the list of global issues discussed during the past few decades. The world seems to be moving in a direction of shifting from oil and coal to renewable energy resources, to be promoting recycling and limiting the consumption of unnecessary consumer goods and to be opting for environment friendly infrastructure from constructing cities to buildings. Measures to reduce and mitigate pollution of water, air and soil are seem to be exercised more and more by institutions as well as states. Conservation of environment has emerged as an area study. Leading environment friendly lifestyles have become a topic being discussed. A lighter carbon footprint, the measurement of less carbon emission by an individual or organization, has emerged as a fashion statement of the modern man / woman.
Though this change described above seems to be the trend, the transition from unsustainability to sustainability, as it can be observed, is a slow process with mainstream affairs of the world remain environmentally unfriendly. Individual, institutional and country level initiatives to speed up this process of transition are important if damage done to the environment is to be kept within the limits of recovery. It is within this context the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) decides to go green.
The overarching goal of the Green Policy of the Open University is to become one of the most environmentally sustainable universities in the island. This requires the transformation of the existing natural and built environment of the university to become environmentally friendly and gearing the teaching, research and advocacy functions conducted by the university to make Sri Lanka a sustainable country while promoting environmentally friendly lifestyles among the University staff (i.e. academic, non-academic) and students. To achieve this goal, active commitment of the university is required for the following policy principles;
- Natural environment – Improve the visual environment of the OUSL as a green university (including the main campus as well as other regional and study centres) through conserving and enhancing biodiversity, managing solid waste and preventing air and water pollution.
- Built environment- Use green engineering designing as one main guideline when constructing new buildings and renovating existing buildings while giving preference to sustainable building materials wherever possible.
- Teaching- Introduce environment education and sustainability as a cross-cutting theme in education provided by all faculties and offer short and regular courses and programmes linked to environmental sustainability .
- Research –Promote more research on themes related to environmental sustainability.
- Advocacy – Raise awareness among university community in particular and among general public in general on the collective responsibility of building a sustainable world and also play a prominent role as the university in advocating sustainability in national- sectorial policies.
- Lifestyles- Promote low carbon, energy efficient, resource conserving and low polluting lifestyles among staff and students.