Sustainability Monitor reveals opportunities on sustainability

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How sustainable is Erasmus University Rotterdam? The new Sustainability Monitor helps answer this complex question. You will find information on our carbon emissions. The monitor also provides insights into how our research and teaching relate to the SDGs.

The Sustainability Monitor helps us move in the right direction

The university’s carbon footprint is an important indicator of sustainability. In the dashboard you can find data about our CO2 emissions and make comparisons. For example, you can distinguish between emissions resulting from heating buildings, from waste disposal or from business travel. You can also view our footprint over the years, in total or by category. The emission data is collected as accurately as possible. For example, the university’s CO2 emissions are measured according to the NEN0ISO 14064 standard, and the structure of the footprint is according to the methods of the Green House Gas Protocol.

The data reflect the influence of various developments in recent years. Think of the growing number of students and employees, the consequences of the corona crisis and the sustainability measures that have been taken. The dashboard also shows how green electricity and energy-saving measures ensured a steady decrease in our footprint.

The Sustainability Monitor helps the university move in the right direction. It shows where the most advances on sustainability can be made. According to Sustainability manager Mariecke van der Glas: “Because a large part of our footprint is caused by mobility, we are firmly committed to less and more sustainable travel. Both for business and for daily travel.”

The dashboard contributes to raising awareness on the subject, encouraging sustainable behaviour, and facilitating dialogue. “We hope that the monitor will be widely consulted, fosters dialogues, and generates constructive feedback. If there is more demand for certain data, we will consider adding it,” says Van der Glas.

How our research and education are related to the SDGs

Another part of the dashboard is the SDG mapper. This part of the monitor is used to classify the extent to which our education and research is related to the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations. It shows whether our academic publications and educational courses address one or more of the SDGs. We must acknowledge that not all our research and education is related to the SDGs. However, we do value the insights the mapper provides in guiding our research, education, and engagement activities towards conditions which facilitates the achievement of positive societal impact. The SDGs are therefore not an outcome nor impact measure but provide a framework useful for formulating societal impact ambitions, strategies and activities at individual, department, school, and university level. In addition, with the insights we can better refine our research and education policies at EUR. “For example, you see a huge outlier in publications in the field of health. That is neither good nor bad, but it is good to know and be aware of it”, says Mariecke van der Glas. The SDG mapper is also very useful in finding collaborative partners in achieving the same goals.

Although the SDG-mapper provides interesting insights in how our work relates to the SDG’s, there are some drawbacks for example related to the plethora of SDG classification algorithms. The mapping algorithm is open sourced and available via Github. Currently only English-language academic articles and course descriptions are included from PURE, our Current Research Information System (CRIS) and OSIRIS in this alpha version. Dutch-language articles and course descriptions will be machine translated to be included in the next version. The SDG mapper algorithm is validated by researchers from International Institute of Social Studies by comparing manual and algorithmic labelling of all research articles. In addition,  the EUR algorithm is currently compared with that of Elsevier’s and Leiden CWTS’.

More information

You are invited to think along!

The monitor is accessible to everyone and can be found via this webpage. The information in the dashboard is updated at least once a year, in the case of SDG mapper more often. In Summer 2023, an official launch with additional features and improvements can be expected. In the meantime, you are invited to think constructively about the further development of the Sustainability Monitor as a whole and the SDG mapper. Please contact us at

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