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Are Brazilian universities greening? An analysis of their performances in an international sustainability ranking

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Abstract

The escalation of environmental issues demands a response towards sustainable development, and universities may contribute to a greener future by reducing their own environmental impacts. Brazil has a history of environmental policies and more than 2000 higher education institutions (HEIs). Although Brazilian universities have been implementing green practices and taking part in sustainability rankings, their performances in these platforms are poorly appreciated. We aimed to address this issue and investigated the participation of Brazilian HEIs in GreenMetrics (GM). We asked whether the number of universities in Brazil participating in GM increased over the years, and whether their overall and criteria performances have been improving. The number of Brazilian HEIs ranked by GM has increased by over 1000% since its first edition, and their overall scores have increased since 2014. Nonetheless, the greening strategies of universities in Brazil have changed since 2014, because “Education & Research” score largely increased in the period, while “Water” and “Waste” scores decreased. These results show that a growing number of universities in Brazil are implementing sustainability actions, reflecting the country’s commitment with sustainable development. However, they are approaching sustainability mainly through a traditional teaching and research approach. Therefore, there is a lot of potential for improvement of campus sustainability in Brazil, especially regarding different aspects of campus operations, and we suggest that creating institutional sustainability policies oriented by GM indicators is an opportunity to make Brazilian universities greener.

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The R scripts used in this article is available at Figshare.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful for the insightful contributions of the two anonymous reviewers, who helped us to improve this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Luís Paulo Pires.

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Pires, L.P., Pereira, B.B. Are Brazilian universities greening? An analysis of their performances in an international sustainability ranking. Environ Dev Sustain (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-023-04172-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-023-04172-2

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