Sustainable development means that current and future generations must have a healthy and good environment, economic and social welfare and justice. SFS believes that all aspects of sustainability are central to society.
The state has a special responsibility to set clear requirements at national level for sustainability aspects within the academy, especially due to the rapid climate change and its major negative impact on society. The academy should therefore actively work to reduce its own climate footprint. The higher education institutions also have unique opportunities to provide education and research on sustainability that benefits the whole of society. Sustainability is not limited to any particular scientific discipline, but can be included in all subject areas. It is important that sustainability issues within the academy are addressed in an international context. Mobility must not be restricted, but responsibility must be taken in the internationalization process.
The provision in the Higher Education Act that universities and colleges must promote sustainable development was introduced in 2006. In 2016, the University Chancellor's Office (UKÄ) was commissioned by the government to evaluate the work of universities and colleges in promoting sustainable development. UKÄ stated in its report that when the work of the higher education institutions was evaluated approximately ten years later, a mixed picture emerges. On the positive side, most higher education institutions were able to provide examples of courses or educational programs where sustainable development had been integrated. More worrying was that about half did not have university-wide goals for sustainable development in place and that even fewer carried out systematic follow-up of these goals or worked with competence development for their teachers. Due to this evaluation, several higher education institutions have begun work in these areas. Even if these come late, it should of course still be seen as positive that the work is now underway. In total, only a quarter of the higher education institutions have been assessed as “a well-developed process” for the work with sustainable development in education, which means that three quarters of the higher education institutions need to develop their processes in the area. The assessment group within UKÄ therefore believes that the higher education institutions' work to promote sustainable development must become clearer and take place at a higher pace.
Sustainable development is a high priority issue among students. Above all, the issue is largely about a sustainable change with a focus on climate. At SFS's extra-appointed council in October 2020, it was decided that SFS will continue to develop its views on sustainable development, with a focus on ecological sustainability. SFS has worked with the social and economic aspect of sustainable development within the framework of “conditions for studies”, this refers to, among other things, the study social activities in feeling community with fellow students as well as study grants.