Short update: mapping fossil industry ties and data sustainability dialogues

A view of our campus with the faculties flags.

At Erasmus University Rotterdam, there is continuous work on the theme of sustainability. Transparency, dialogue and decisiveness are very important to the Executive Board. Here, you will read about the sustainability dialogues that are now planned and the first results of the new Erasmus Industry Engagement Monitor, which maps the ties with organisations with an impact on the climate and ecosystems.

“Last year we took many steps together. As Executive Board, we are proud to see how people at all levels and in all parts of EUR are committed to a more sustainable university and future. At the same time, we also know that there is still much work to be done and that this work is not always without struggle. We are very much looking forward to the sustainability dialogues in which the Erasmian community will have its say on this subject. With this, we lay the foundation for new policy,” says Ellen van Schoten, vice president of the Executive Board and responsible for sustainability at EUR.

University-wide dialogues on sustainability

The dates for the university-wide dialogue series Sustainability at EUR: From words to action have been announced! Students, staff and faculty of all levels are invited to share their views and knowledge about sustainability at our university. Sustainability in teaching and research and ties to the fossil industry are some of the topics that will be addressed. These discussions will serve as a basis for developing new policy proposals and action plans. Among other things, guidelines on how EUR should deal with collaborations with (fossil) industry will result from this.

The dialogue series includes 11 faculty dialogues, which will take place in October and November. In consultation with all faculties, event calendars were considered and it was concluded that organisation before this summer was not feasible for any of the faculties. The 3 interfaculty dialogues will also take place next Autumn.

Dates, locations and registration information can be found on MyEUR (intranet)

Campus Woudestein garden on a sunny day.
Jonathan van Rijn

Relations with the industry

How to deal with collaborations with industry as a university, especially the fossil industry, is a hot topic. The Executive Board is aware of this and, through the dialogues mentioned above, wants to establish guidelines on how we as a university want to cooperate with industry. A first step in this is to map the collaborations we have with industry. To this end, a project group with EUR employees was set up a few months ago. This group is mapping what our formal involvement with social parties is, supported by an independent external research agency. The results will be published in the Erasmus Industry Engagement Monitor.

The project group’s approach consists of two phases. In the first phase, it focuses on mapping commitments in the public domain of our university, which are the faculties and professional services. By commitments we mean the established contracts with organisations, which include a financial component. This involves looking at all commitments over the past five years. The project group then analyses how many commitments with fossil industry companies there are. At this moment, only the number of contracts is counted, and not yet the size of the contract.

To give an impression: the Phase 1 research material already includes more than 200 procurement contracts, financial transactions of 18,000 creditors & 14,000 debtors, 150+ collaborative research and education grants with 1,000+ social partners in these grants, and the approximately 12,000 known employers of around 20,000 graduates/alumni (self-reported by our alumni).

Campus garden, campus Woudestein/
Alexander Santos Lima

Phase 1 will be completed in the Summer. From an initial count of the number of contracts and invoices, the number of engagements with fossil fuel companies appears to be less than 1% of the total number of engagements.

Phase 2 of the Erasmus Industry Engagement Monitor will focus on the university’s private domain. This includes EUR-affiliated private limited companies, foundations and the Erasmus Trust Fund. This phase will be launched in the Summer, and the report is expected in September.

This will provide a first overview of the number of EUR’s commitments to the fossil industry in the third quarter. This overview will feed into the dialogues as input for the EUR-wide conversation. With the input from the dialogues, the methodology behind the monitor will be scientifically improved. It will thus become a tool for transparent and structural monitoring of ties with the fossil industry. Guidelines on dealing with the industry will, as mentioned, follow after the dialogues.

More information

Would you like to participate in the conversation about the Erasmus Industry Engagement Monitor and/or other sustainability-related topics? Or would you like to represent your faculty in the Sustainability Dialogues? You are most welcome. You can register by sending an e-mail to:

Do you want to be kept informed?

  • Employees can subscribe to the Sustainability Today Newsletter (or have a look here)
  • Students can subscribe via this page and become a free member of the Erasmus Sustainability Hub here



Related content
EUR organises 12 university-wide dialogues on sustainability in the dialogue series Sustainability at EUR: From words to action.
Students on the stairs of Langeveld Building
Related links
See MyEUR for more information on the dialogues (available internally only)
Sustainability 2022 progress report
EUR Sustainability Monitor
More background on sustainability at EUR

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