This new model of a sustainable and socially responsible university will contribute to a deeper understanding of the interaction between the environmental, economic, social and ethical dimension of sustainable development. We sincerely hope that the University of Maribor will be able to convince other public, private, governmental, non-governmental and industrial organizations to follow its lead.
The University of Maribor comprises various faculties with more than 23,000 students and staff members. The consumption of energy, water and materials is therefore comparable to the consumption of large businesses. Environmental pollution is not generated only in lecture halls and labs but also in offices, at parking lots, etc. The transformation of the University into a sustainable and socially responsible institution requires the incorporation of all four dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, economic, social and ethical).
The environmental dimension refers not only to the consumption of resources (energy, water, minerals), pollution (air, water, soil) and waste reduction but also to transport, food (organic), land use and cultivation practices, short and green supply chains, etc.
The economic dimension is reflected in finances (cost reduction, obtaining funds for R&D), marketing and management, green public procurement (environmentally friendly goods and services), including the mandatory share of organic food in subsidized meals for students and staff members.
The social dimension includes education/training, cooperation with the wider community, environmental awareness-raising and promotion of values. In addition, it enables the development of and respect for ethical values, ensures solidarity and social cohesion.
The ethical dimension incorporates VCEN interdependence, a holistic approach and the seven principles of SR (according to ISO 26000).
The sustainability dimensions should not be considered separate but interconnected pillars. The environmental dimension is the widest one and influences the social dimension, which in turn influences the economic dimension. Ethical values represent the common platform. Communication between stakeholders and their satisfaction in the process, which must be brought in line with the principles of sustainable development and social responsibility, is also of the utmost importance in order to contribute to human well-being.