To combat global warming - provide animal-free meals in world universities

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To combat global warming - provide animal-free meals in world universities

This petition had 2,346 supporters

Piotr Kurczewski started this petition to President of International Association of Universities

Our GOAL: Make animal-free dining options on university campuses a global rule, not a local exception!

While the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris has passed a few months ago, one has the feeling that world diplomats did nothing to address one of the major contributors to environmental degradation and global warming - livestock industry.

It's about food...
In 2009 the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that "substantial reduction of [environmental] impacts [of agriculture] would only be possible with a substantial diet change, AWAY FROM ANIMAL PRODUCTS" (19% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions is attributed to agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, according to United Nations Environment Programme).
...and education!
Education is a powerful driver for positive change, but universities around the globe (about 16,000 institutions) have done little to provide more eco-friendly animal-free food options for their students (about 150 million people). Yet we believe that school environment can (and should) teach students as much as lectures can.

Help us change it!
Please join us in asking the President of International Association of Universities to call upon world universities to take immediate steps towards providing and sustaining ANIMAL-FREE meals in their on-campus dining halls.

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Elaborated version:

1. Now what?
During the 2015 Paris Climate Summit the opportunity to wholeheartedly address the primary causes of man-made climate change was wasted. As a gradually rising segment of civil society, we - people who abstain from consuming animal-based foods - firmly believe it is our obligation to draw everybody's attention to the fact that by cutting down on our daily consumption of animal-products, we can significantly reduce emissions of green-house gases (GHG), which drive climate change.

2. Why food?
The impact of livestock industry (which supplies animal products to our tables) on the level of GHG emissions in Earth's atmosphere has not been addressed enough by the previous climate conferences. Primary focus of negotiations was how to reduce GHG emissions generated by electricity/heat production, industry and transportation. While these three segments of economy are the main contributors of GHG, it should be emphasized that about 19% of total GHG emissions comes from agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products (as reported by United Nations Environment Programme in 2010). In 2009 the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that "substantial reduction of [environmental] impacts [of agriculture] would only be possible with a substantial diet change, away from animal products." FAO noted that the impact of agricultural production on environment will become more significant in the decades to come “due to population growth and increasing consumption of animal products."

3. Why education?
It is becoming quite clear that through modification of eating habits each of us (and all of us as one) could bring about a much-needed reduction of GHG emissions, and provide a remedy to a plethora of other serious environmental problems (livestock production is the main driver of water consumption, water pollution, deforestation, ocean collapse and biodiversity loss). However, habit change does not come about without effort. People first need to acquire adequate knowledge about environmental (and health-related) benefits of adopting a plant-based diet in their daily lives. They also need to be convinced about its safety and palatability. All these requirements can and should be met by educational institutions, since education is believed to be the most efficient architect of change. Malala Yousafzai's words that “education is hope” uphold their validity also in this context.

4. Why universities?
In the 21st century higher education plays an increasingly important role in the development of modern society by providing an impetus for change. There were over 16,000 higher education institutions in the world in 2006, and the population of students enrolled in higher education around the globe will reach 262 million by 2025. Not only numbers matter here but also the fact that university students are mature enough to think independently and to assume responsibility for their own health and that of the planet. Therefore, we believe that higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world ought to intensify their efforts in educating students (as well as local communities) about animal-free lifestyle.

5. Why learning by eating?
The claim that learning by doing reaps the best results has been commonly accepted in educational circles. Without a dining infrastructure in place which offers animal-free meals/products, students are not given the opportunity to try out eco-friendly food! Just like learning about other cultures, how will you know before you have experienced it? More and more students are willing to go veggie, but rarely they are given an opportunity to do so in a healthy and convenient manner. This is simply because animal-based dishes dominate the menu cards of on-campus dining halls. As a result, students are often prevented from applying theoretical knowledge learned in a classroom to practical side of their daily lives.

This state of affairs takes its roots in lack of relevant school policies that would encourage young people to explore the pros and cons of “going veggie”. Many factors contribute to this situation, including lack of knowledge or/and funding among university administrators/educators, but too often it is simply due to lack of will to bring about expected (but rarely uttered) changes on campus.

6. Who can make a difference?
> Answer: International Association of Universities (IAU)
IAU is the UNESCO-based organization that brings together 636 higher education institutions and organizations from all continents. It is the biggest institution of its kind in the world. Committed to being the global voice for HEIs, for over two decades IAU has been developing Policy Statements which include "recommendations for action at either the institutional or the governmental level or both." Ultimate addressees of these recommendations are universities.

So far, IAU has issued several Policy Statements covering a variety of education-related issues, such as code of ethics in higher education, social responsibility of academia, and academia's contribution to sustainable development. As an organization actively engaged in advocating development of sustainability-related concepts and practices within academic structures, IAU seems to be best suited to appeal to universities in every corner of the world, in order to mobilize them to take immediate action.

7. Stand with us!
Please join us in asking President of International Association of Universities to call upon the authorities of worldwide universities to take immediate steps in order to provide and sustain animal-free food options in their on-campus dining halls. This call should be issued as soon as possible. It should assume a form of “recommendation for action” to all universities associated in IAU, and a form of general postulation for all other higher education institutions not associated in IAU.

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Chinese version:解決全球暖化-在世界各大學提供無肉食物選項

Petition Closed

This petition had 2,346 supporters