Thousands of universities around the world on Wednesday declared a "climate emergency" and committed themselves with the United Nations to fighting climate change, in an effort to mobilize their students.
In a letter, the representatives of more than 7,000 educational institutions on six continents promised to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, or 2050 at the latest.
They also pledged more resources for "action-oriented" climate change research and skills development, and to develop environmental education both on campus and through outreach programs.
"What we teach is shaping the future," said Inger Andersen, director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), in a statement welcoming the initiative, which was presented at a ministerial meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.
"Young people are increasingly at the forefront of calls for more action on climate and environmental challenges, and initiatives directly involving young people in this critical work are a valuable contribution," she added.
The initiative leaders -- which include Strathmore University in Kenya, Tongji University in China, France's KEDGE Business School, Glasgow University, California State University, Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico's University of Guadalajara -- hope to have more than 10,000 academic institutions signed and committed to the plan by the end of the year.