Green light for a more climate-friendly future

The transformation of Bucerius Law School into a sustainable institution

Living eco-friendly means more than just using green electricity, separating waste and having “Meatless Mondays”. On both small and large scales, there are many areas to improve sustainability at a university. Identifying them and adapting accordingly is the task of the new Green Office, recently founded in February, at Bucerius Law School. The student group Climate and Sustainability played a significant role in raising awareness towards this issue.  

New student group creates awareness for sustainability

Summer 2019 - six months of climate demonstrations have also been a wake up call for students at Bucerius Law School and made it clear that the university has a vast, largely untapped potential when it comes to climate protection and sustainability. Although a few independent projects were already in existence, Greta has shown that more can be achieved by working together. By combining individual initiatives, the student group „Climate and Sustainability" was created and grew into one of the largest student groups at Bucerius Law School within a few weeks, with over 100 members.

However even now, not everyone is completely aware of the urgency for action: "We want to raise awareness to the entire Bucerius community and create a real consciousness for sustainability among our fellow students by making the issue visible on campus and integrating it into our curriculum. Just as gender equality issues are becoming more and more present, we would also like to see this occur in the area of climate protection," explains Martje Köppen, ranking member of the student group. Through the support of "netzwerk n", a project for sustainable development at universities that has been recognized by UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, concrete approaches have been jointly developed. Meinhard Weizmann, Managing Director of Bucerius Law School: "The commitment and innovative strength of the student group is impressive. As management, we fully support the idea of a sustainable campus and in the coming years want to make progress together with our students. We also feel confident that we can count on the ZEIT STIFTUNG BUCERIUS and the Foundation for the Advancement of Bucerius Law School for such an important cause.“ 

Foundation of the Green Office

An important step towards the institutional anchoring of sustainability at the university has already been taken: In February 2020, a "Green Office" was established under the leadership of Thies Hauck. He stated, "Together with the student university group, the first projects have already been launched: from the gradual reduction of paper consumption to the concept of a travel policy, including CO2 compensation, and the preparation of a university-wide program on environmental management." 

There are a variety of starting points for the transformation of the law school. They include the evaluation of the gastronomic offerings for sustainability, for example with regard to the avoidance of wasteful packaging and food waste, as well as the reduction of animal products. Accordingly, it was recently decided to refrain in the future from using meat and fish products at all campus events organized by Bucerius Law School management and administration. "In the long term, the overriding goal is to make the campus climate-neutral and, in addition, to create a place for dialogue on how climate and sustainability issues can be incorporated into our education," concluded Thies Hauck.

"Green" teaching at the law school

Integrating climate and sustainability law content into the curriculum is an aspect that is also integral to the student group. "The law can and will contribute in many different ways to coping with climate change. Not only in public law, but also in tax law, tort law and environmental criminal law, there are numerous important connections," says Martje Köppen. For this reason, the students' broader vision also includes the introduction of an elective course concentrating on ecological analysis of law and the inception of a "Interfaces JuraxKlima“ conference. In the interim, the student group would like to continuously expand its network of experts from law firms and think tanks as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations in order to attract speakers for future campus events. In May, for example, a (virtual) "Future Dialogue" on the Covid-19 pandemic will be held in cooperation with the ZEIT STIFTUNG BUCERIUS as a starting point for sustainable systemic change. In the future, the range of internships and legal clerkships in the field of environmental and climate protection will continue to expand – and will also provide impulses for prospective lawyers to make the present and future more climate-friendly.

Authors: Lena Johannes & Thies Hauck
Translation: David Patrician
otos: © HSG Klima & Nachhaltigkeit