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Higher education should take the green route

In the wake of an economic downturn, a responsible environmental attitude is all the more necessary otherwise the ecological and economic costs in the long-term will be even greater.

Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development, marketing expert Maurizio Catulli of the University of Hertfordshire, UK, suggests that higher education and policy makers should lead the way in adopting environmental goods and services.

While legislation can play an important role in promoting industry demand, the higher education sector can assist in a unique way in the research and development of new sustainable processes, technologies and products. Such R&D might be done autonomously or in collaboration with businesses. Either way, the costs that currently hinder the spread of renewable energy technologies must be overcome through taxation and carbon tariffs and through improved international opportunities.

Catulli points out that interest in environmental technologies, sustainable energy production, a reduction in levels of harmful materials and remediation of contaminated sites is important for its own sake. However, it could also give those organisations that adopt a "greener" approach to their business with a competitive advantage. In a deepening recession, this could be critical to business survival.

He highlights a group - UH Green - which has been established to drive new technologies in the environmental goods and services sector in the East of England and beyond. The group will also help fill the knowledge gaps that have become apparent in this sector. Catulli suggests a solution to this problem by recommending that engineering and technological schools seek opportunities for collaboration with the private sector to complement their technical skills in order to jointly develop green technologies.

He adds that specialist environmental departments should be established to target the private sector for specialist training on environmental best practice. Also, business schools should be seeking opportunities for collaborations with companies in the sector to support them in researching and exploiting international opportunities.

David Bradley | alfa
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