Cover photo by ESN Romania
The Erasmus Student Network has among its main objectives contributing to sustainable development and environmental sustainability through learning mobility and civic engagement. Our local associations organise hundreds of activities in the field of environmental sustainability, helping international students to increase their awareness of the issue while developing green skills and interacting with local communities. The activities.esn.org platform gathers many of these initiatives, improving our social impact measurement efforts. The impact seems clear, with the preliminary results of the ESN Survey 2021 showing that Erasmus students report a significant gain in their interest in environmental sustainability during their exchanges. However, there is huge untapped potential to make Erasmus a real booster of green active citizenship.
The Green Erasmus project, coordinated by ESN, has provided evidence of the challenges and opportunities to make Erasmus mobilities greener. ESN believes that measures to make the programme more sustainable should go hand in hand with a focus on inclusion and civic engagement, and a special focus on the diversity of realities that students face depending on the city of origin and personal background. ESN hopes that the findings of the Green Erasmus project will inform the creation of evidence-based measures that respond to the needs of the students, and looks forward to supporting all the efforts to make the programme greener.
As part of our efforts to make Erasmus more sustainable and inclusive for all students, ESN is leading 3 key initiatives in this month of June:
Mobility Is My lifestyle - slow green travel and active citizenship around Europe
The Mobility Is My Lifestyle campaign, part of the Erasmus Generation Participation and Engagement project, connects slow travel with active citizenship in the EU context. Thanks to the support of Eurail, 5 students have been awarded interrail passes and free accommodation to discover Europe´s stunning cultural heritage and share their stories through ESN´s Instagram account, which reaches more than 4 million people from all over the world every year. This initiative is co-financed by the European Parliament. The winners of the contest are also interacting with ESN´s local sections on their journey, who are taking them on various activities that help them discover the cities they travel to in a new way.
Campaigns such as Mobility Is My Lifestyle are key to raising awareness of the possibilities of sustainable travel and the experiences of students. However, these promotion efforts should always highlight the barriers faced by students.
Erasmus by Train - ESN joint call for an Erasmus+ Train ticket and presentation of a pilot project proposal by Renew Europe
ESN has joined forces with Erasmus by Train, a student-led organisation that advocates for sustainable travel in Erasmus, to launch a joint call asking for a ticket adapted to the need of Erasmus students, which would allow them to travel sustainably and in an accessible way to their Erasmus destinations. Since financial barriers are the biggest obstacle to the adoption of sustainable behaviours, a funded ticket that could be covered by EU, national and regional funds would make sustainable travel more appealing and widespread. Expanding opportunities for sustainable travel can also help young Europeans to become more familiar with Europe's cultural heritage, making the Erasmus experience even more complete.
The Erasmus+ ticket incorporates the majority of the suggestions presented by students through the ESN-Eurail survey that was carried out in 2020, and it addresses the challenges identified by the Green Erasmus research report.
The key elements of the joint call have also led to the submission of a European Parliament Pilot Project proposal by three MEPs of the Renew Europe group of the European Parliament
The joint call and the pilot project proposal will be presented at an event in the European Parliament on the 28th of June, and both organisations will start the dissemination of the joint call right after.
Launch of the Green Erasmus petition - Increase support for Green travel in Erasmus+
The Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027 has sustainability among its key priorities, but the support measures included in the Erasmus+ programme guides of 2021 and 2022 do not provide enough incentives. The goal of this petition is to collect 5000 signatures and make green travel a possibility for all students by creating favourable conditions. The Green Erasmus research on the habits of Erasmus students reveals that “although most of the students seem concerned about climate change, […] the cost/price emerges again as a big limitation when it comes to consumer and travel choices and greatly affects students’ decisions and possibly hinder the development of more sustainable habits’’. The petition will be officially launched on the 29th of June.
The petition’s demands are
Increasing the current €50 to a universal top-up of up to €250 for green travel, proportionate to the distance covered
Increasing the current 4 days up to 7 days of additional individual support covering additional subsistence costs and/or accommodation needs linked to green travel - for the round trip
The petition will be featured on the Green Erasmus portal, launched on the same date, which provides students with informative content to have sustainable behaviours in the different aspects of the Erasmus exchange’s life cycle.
The Green Erasmus petition and portal are part of the Green Erasmus project led by ESN. Green Erasmus strives to improve the environmental sustainability of the Erasmus+ Programme by raising awareness across the European Higher Education sector and empowering student organisations to be the agents of change. The project consortium consists of Erasmus Student Network (ESN), European University Foundation (EUF), European Students’ Union (ESU), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Technische Hochschule Köln (TH Köln) and Students Organising Sustainability UK (SOS UK).