In its 2015-2019 Strategic Plan the
University of Coimbra for the first time and in no equivocal terms takes responsibility
for sustainability concerns, including with regard to the strategic definition
framework. In fact, the affirmation of the University
of Coimbra must inevitably be conceived of in a longer term, which means that
certain dimensions whose impact affects all the pillars need reinforcement. Furthermore,
to conceive of the University of Coimbra's sustainability in the medium to long
term presupposes the planning of dimensions that span the University's overall
The construction of the 2015-2019 UC Strategic Plan, with its incorporation of sustainability as an autonomous area underlying and cutting across all mission and resource pillars, is an innovative process in the context of the University of Coimbra and builds upon the experience acquired during the previous planning process.
In addition, since one of the principles of the University of Coimbra’s Strategic Plan is strategic alignment – according to which every unit and service of the University must define its own strategy and action plan in line with the strategic guidelines defined for the UC as a whole –, the conditions are in place to ensure that all Faculties and other units apply the principles of sustainability as provided for in the Plan.
Within the specific scope of their own activities, the Faculties and other units will thus launch or develop goals, actions and indicators pertaining to those areas deemed critical with regard to sustainability.
A benchmarking analysis of the way in which sustainability is addressed in the Strategic Plans of other Portuguese Institutions of Higher Education allows us to conclude that sustainability as a theme has been gaining awareness and relevance and that, as a consequence, it has aroused interest on the part of IHEs – even if not all of the latter have explicitly stated it in their strategies yet.
By viewing sustainability as something autonomous that underlies and cuts across all its mission pillars (research, teaching and community) and resource pillars (people, economic and financial resources, infrastructures), the UC chose to innovate rather than limiting itself to the traditional consideration of environmental, social, and economic-financial sustainability (the most recurrent aspects of the Plans analysed) or addressing these aspects in scattered, piecemeal fashion.
In this way, a concrete and prominent place is given to sustainability per se, which makes this a truly innovative approach. The way in which its incorporation into the Strategic Plan is operationalised can also be viewed as innovative, for the Plan clearly and expressly defines the strategic guidelines to be followed in the sustainability areas, articulates visions and defines the initiatives necessary in order to fulfil them, determines the goal(s) of reference and selects a set of performance indicators to be monitored on a regular basis.
The University thus takes a sustainable management approach vis-à-vis its activities and resources.
Its entire performance should be based on such an approach, and that in turn will allow it to respond efficiently and effectively to the needs of the present in order to ensure University of Coimbra's own future.