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Preparing for the G8: the role of universities for sustainable development

On 18 and 19 May the G8 University Summit took place in Turin, Italy. The topic of the gathering rotated around the role of universities as centers for promoting sustainable and compatible development. The summit was attended by members of over 3 000 universities, representing almost 30 million students across the globe. The main outcome of the summit - its final declaration - will be submitted to the G8 Summit of heads of states in L'Aquila in July this year. The declaration, signed by 41 delegated chancellors from 18 countries and nine international university networks, offers the G8 leaders recommendations in 11 points and underlines the role of universities as promoters of compatible development. It calls, among other things, for a recognition of “the role played by education and research in the many fields relevant to sustainable development and foster among students, teachers, scholars and leaders awareness of the responsibility and ethical behavior required to achieve this task”.

In parallel to the solemn signing of the declaration, an anti-G8 student demonstration broke out into a violent confrontation with the police, just outside the event venue – Castello del Valentino. 24 police officials were injured in the attacks, and while two students were arrested, none were hurt.

The G8 Presidency is taken on by each country in turn, which works to define the topics to be placed on the agenda and the priorities for action, as well as to identify goals and sectors of intervention. After Japan in 2008 and Italy in 2009, the meetings in 2010 will be hosted by Canada.

Italian Presidency of the G8
Italian Rectors’ Conference