Industry Engagement Monitor

Transparency about partnerships between (fossil industry) partners
Campus Woudestein garden on a sunny day.

Erasmus University Rotterdam aims to have a positive net impact on the climate and on ecosystems, as expressed in Strategy2024. 

At the beginning of 2023, Erasmus University Rotterdam formally recognised the climate and ecological emergency. “What we do in the next ten years will have an impact on many generations to come", said the Executive Board. "Which is why we call on our entire organisation to widen and accelerate the sustainability transition in our research, education and business operations.” This appeal received broad support within the university and various initiatives have been developed since then. 

two girls talking and sitting outside

One of the initiatives was to review and identify Erasmus University Rotterdam’s relationships with organisations that have a positive or negative impact on the climate and ecosystems. The initial results of this review have now become available (as of September 2023) and will be one of the topics of discussion in the university-wide dialogue sessions on sustainability (internal link), which are set to be held at the university from October 2023.

Scope of the review

With the help of an external and independent research firm, Erasmus University Rotterdam has identified how many formal partnerships the EUR has had between 2018 and 2022 in the field of research, education and business operations. How many of those organisations have a positive or negative impact on the climate and ecosystems was similarly reviewed. All public components of the university (faculties and services) as well as all private-sector organisations affiliated with the university (including the private companies in the EUR Holding) were included in the review. 

For the purposes of the review, all contracts and invoices for (framework) agreements, subsidies and grants, collaborative projects (including cases limited to substantive involvement), suppliers and customers between 2018 and 2022 were considered ‘formal partnerships’.

Seven publicly available lists from various (inter)nationally recognised authorities, including the Carbon Underground 200 and the Clean 200, were consulted in order to objectively determine whether a formal partner exercises a positive or negative impact on the climate and ecosystems. Ultimately, a list was compiled of a total of 1,900 organisations that have a positive or negative impact on the climate and ecosystems. It was then examined which partners of the university appeared on the compiled list.

What are the results of the review?

In total, 61,393 formal partnerships were identified between EUR and external parties. 33 of these partnerships related to organisations with a negative impact on the climate and ecosystems. In 103 cases, EUR collaborated with organisations with a positive impact. The majority of both groups relate to accounts receivable (customers), including students of post-academic courses or programmes paid for by the organisation in question.

The vast majority of partnerships (61,257) are with partners that do not appear on the lists consulted of organisations that have a positive or negative impact on the climate and ecosystems. The nature and financial scope of the partnerships has not yet been identified. 

What are we going to do with the results?

It is clear that Erasmus University Rotterdam works with a multitude of external partners. Our aim in working with these partners is to make a contribution to solving the complex issues facing society today as well as in the future. At present, within EUR, specific conditions on entering new partnerships with external partners are only imposed to a limited extent.

To what extent it would be necessary and prudent to impose certain conditions is an issue that currently is on a lot of people’s minds both within the university and across society as a whole. There are no good answers readily available. It is equally crucial that the staff and students at our university are given the opportunity to share their insights, experiences and dilemmas in relation to this issue. The university-wide dialogue sessions on sustainability will provide an opportunity for that. The results of these dialogue sessions will form the input for new policy proposals and action plans, culminating in a revised sustainability strategy for the university.

What’s next?

The initial findings of the review into partnerships between EUR and external partners will be supplemented and enriched further. This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

The university-wide dialogue sessions on sustainability are set to kick off in the first week of October. All EUR members of staff and students are invited to take part. The faculty dialogue sessions are intended to kick off an internal debate on sustainability in research, teaching and education, leadership/management and business operations and the contribution of the various disciplines (or lack thereof) to sustainability. Within the interdisciplinary dialogue sessions between faculties, participants will focus on systematically addressing, sharing and coordinating initiatives in the field of sustainability. The partnerships between Erasmus University Rotterdam and (fossil industry) partners will be included in all of these dialogue sessions.

More info on the EUR Sustainability Dialogues this autumn 2023 (intranet)

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