IDEA League – Working Group on Climate Change Adaptation on University Campuses

  A group of people smiling at the camera Copyright: © Heike Lachmann  

The IDEA League is a collaborative network between several leading European universities of technology, science, and engineering (Delft University of Technology, ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Chalmers University of Technology, Politecnico di Milano, and RWTH Aachen University).
Since its founding in 1999, the IDEA League has promoted collaboration between these universities through joint degree programs, research initiatives, strategy papers, and quality management initiatives. The members of this strategic alliance have been joining forces and establishing valuable connections to encourage innovation and the pursuit of ambitious goals.

This kind of cross-border, bottom-up collaboration provides an ideal environment for students, researchers, and staff from the partnering universities to share their collective wealth of knowledge, experience, and resources. The aim is to bring together and inspire a new generation of European science and technology graduates, foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and steer Europe towards a more competitive and compassionate future.
Various working groups consisting of experts from all the different member universities work on identifying and solving strategic and targeted challenges.

Since 2020, one of the working groups has been tackling the issue of sustainability on university campuses.
Universities can lead the way into the future by putting what they teach and preach into practice. Society must become carbon-neutral, circular, climate-adaptive, and nature-friendly – and do so soon. Universities can implement sustainability goals on their campuses and in their operations and thereby be a model for other organizations and cities. But how exactly do we make that happen? The IDEA League Expert Working Group on Sustainable Campuses aims to strengthen collaboration and the IDEA League Best Practice to achieve more sustainable campuses.


Our joint commitment: We want to be role models and learn from one another

A woman and a man smiling at the camera along with RWTH's Rector Ulrich Rüdiger Copyright: © Heike Lachmann

As universities, we have to be guided by science in everything we do, and the science is clear: Humanity faces a massive challenge due to anthropogenic climate change.
When the signs are so clear, there can be no other conclusion than to act.

Universities and other higher education institutions, where smart communities keep up with the science and have the space and capability to develop experiments and living labs to test ideas before they are put into practice, are the best places to get started. These institutions can pave the way for organizations and cities struggling with the same climate action and sustainability ambitions.

To this end, the IDEA League working group has prepared a report to present examples of our approaches, concepts, and solutions and to inspire others to take action themselves.


Joint Events



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Summer Schools

Under the leadership of the Institute of Urban Design and European Urban Studies at RWTH Aachen University, summer schools were held in both 2021 and 2022 around the theme of climate change and university campuses. The summer schools involved both faculty and students from all five member universities.

A more detailed overview of the topics and people involved can be found on the summer schools website:

Play Video
IDEA League Summer School, September 9 to 5, 2022

The Sustainable Campus Conference

The IDEA League universities are all working on plans for action toward more sustainability for their specific campuses, research, and teaching activities. The purpose of this conference was to present and share these plans amongst themselves and with other interested European universities. It coincided with a joint statement by the IDEA League universities (see "A Joint Commitment" above).

The conference was held for the first time in 2022. It took place in Aachen at the same time as the Summer School, which was also held at RWTH.

In order to make the presented topics and ideas accessible to everyone in the long term, we have listed video clips of the various contributions here:


The First Conference Day

Play Video
IDEA League Sustainable Campus Conference on September 7, 2022

Conference Highlights:

Time Stamp Topic
00:00:00 Welcome
Professor Ulrich Rüdiger – Rector of RWTH Aachen University
00:12:18 Keynote Speech: Approaching the climate crisis through naturebased solutions
Professor Greg Keeffe
00:58:00 "Green TU Delft" Presentation Held by a Student Association
01:02:50 Impulse IDEAlistic (IDEA League Student Representative)
Svenja Borgmann
01:07:30 Should we avoid flying completely?
Katarina Ekman – Chalmers
01:17:45 How can universities be "role models" for sustainability?
Dr. Omar Kassab – ETH Zürich
01:24:32 Is education of sustainable graduates most important and therefore we do not have to become carbon neutral?
Professor Niklas von der Aßen – RWTH Aachen University
01:31:30 What type of food should be offered on campus?
Professor And van den Dobblesteen – TU Delft
01:38:30 Panel Discussion With the Rectors of the IDEA League Universities


Second Conference Day

Play Video
IDEA League Sustainable Campus Conference

Conference Highlights:

Time Stamp Topic
00:01:48 Climate Psychology: Climate Action from a Behavioural Perspective
Key Note Professor Gerdien de Vries
01:04:45 Sustainability @ RWTH Aachen University
Professor Niklas von der Aßen – RWTH Aachen
01:28:20 Sustainable TU Delft – Vision, Ambition & Action Plan for a Climate University
Professor Andy van den Dobbelsteen – TU Delft
01:45:35 What Has Been Happening with Sustainability at Chalmers
Dr. Katarina Ekman – Chalmers
01:55:20 Discussion with Sustainability Coordinators
03:00:00 Governance: Organising Campus Transformation
Dr. Omas Kassab – ETH Zürich
Energy System
Hubert Linssen – TU Delft
03:47:25 Towards Sustainable Mobility on the RWTH Campus
Professor Tobias Kuhnimhof – RWTH Aachen
Food & Beverage
Prof. Andy van den Dobblesteen – TU Delft
04:37:26 Social Engagement
Julia Berg & Marie Decker – RWTH Aachen
04:57:48 Urban Living Labs for Nature-Based Solutions
Dr. Axel Timpe – RWTH Aachen