Sustainable development and responsibility

Sustainability and Sustainable Development Program 2023-2024


In November 2020, the Rectors’ Council of Universities of Applied Sciences (Arene) published the Sustainable and Responsible University of Applied Sciences program, which is based on the UN Agenda 2030 guidelines and the Ministry of Education and Culture’s sustainability framework.

Through close collaboration among universities of applied sciences, the systematic development of sustainability and responsible practices continues. VAMK actively participates in this effort, contributing strong expertise, particularly in carbon footprint calculations.

Situated in Vaasa, the Nordic Energy Capital, the largest energy technology cluster in the Nordic countries, EnergyVaasa, aims to develop sustainable technological solutions that reduce emissions and conserve energy on a global scale. This naturally aligns with Vaasa’s ambitious program “Carbon-Neutral Vaasa 202x” for energy and climate, and its derived strategic objectives that apply to all city group entities, including VAMK. VAMK plays a pivotal role as part of the energy ecosystem and an implementer of the climate and energy program. VAMK’s strategic goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. As part of our regional impact, our mission is to create a competitive advantage for key industry stakeholders by training future professionals and providing forward-looking insights into a more sustainable future. Sustainability and responsibility are overarching themes in our entire strategy and all our operations.

VAMK’s first sustainability program was developed in 2011. In line with national developments, we have systematically implemented various measures for a sustainable future. Key actions in reducing our carbon footprint have included transitioning to emissions-free district heating and electricity agreements, as well as replacing shared vehicles with natural gas vehicles. Building technology has also been optimized to save energy. Starting from March 2023, our staff has had access to electric vehicle charging stations, as well as the opportunity to use company bicycles.

The current sustainability and responsible development program at VAMK is the third of its kind. The program is developed in collaboration with our staff and is a dynamic, annually reviewed, and updated document that guides the promotion of sustainability and responsibility at VAMK. New objectives are added to the program each year, ensuring that our work toward a more sustainable future is ongoing and conducted step by step, taking into account the achievement and continuity of previous objectives. In our sustainability program, we closely monitor the realization of the set objectives. We report on the actions taken to promote the objectives annually in our annual report.

We communicate regularly about the themes of our sustainability program, both internally and externally, through social media, news, and press releases. Sustainable development is one of the essential pillars of our media communication strategy. In the coming years, our communication will increasingly emphasize content related to sustainability, including making sustainability a central theme in our external communications for 2023.

Responsibility means being accountable for a company’s social, economic, and environmental impacts.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. We can achieve these goals by actively considering the environment, people, and the economy in all our decision-making and operations. Sustainable development is based on concern for social inequality and the vitality of ecosystems that form the basis of life.

In this endeavor, we at VAMK want to be actively engaged for a more sustainable future!

Working group:

Piia Kujala, Sanna Eronen, Marja-Riitta Vest, Asseri Laitinen, Anna Sjöholm, Sanna Torkko, Anu Alahuhta, Maria Miettinen-Battistini, Katja Lakojoki-Karhu

Reviewed and approved by the Executive Board on April 11, 2023.

Our Commitment to Sustainability

We, the members of VAMK, continuously create and develop innovative solutions for a more sustainable future. We collaborate with our extensive network of partners locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally

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  1. We educate responsible professionals to meet the changing needs of the workforce.
  2. We provide solutions to sustainability challenges through our Research, Development, and Innovation activities, promoting smart and sustainable development.
  3. We lead responsible everyday lives.
  4. Compassion is responsibility – we take care of one another!
  5. Our Carbon Footprint

We will train responsible talent for the needs of working life

Our Goals

  • We recognize our responsibility as promoters of sustainable development and responsibility.
  • Our education produces professionals who contribute to sustainable development in the workforce and society through their knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
  • All of our staff and VAMK graduates have sufficient basic knowledge of sustainable development and an understanding of its characteristics in their respective fields.
  • We promote the accessibility and inclusivity of higher education.

Our Actions

  • We offer and promote sustainable development training packages or other education on various aspects of sustainable development to our staff.
  • We integrate sustainable development, circular economy, and/or carbon neutrality into our curricula.
  • We offer continuous learning study modules on sustainable development themes for the benefit of local businesses.
  • We ensure that our education is accessible to students regardless of their starting points.
  • We enable students to gain knowledge in responsible economics and investment.

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We will provide solutions to sustainability challenges in our RDI operations, and promote smart and sustainable development

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Our Goals

  • We influence the development of a sustainable, intelligent, and responsible society through our education integrated with Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) activities. We dynamically adapt to the changes in our operating environment.
  • We promote goal-oriented and coordinated co-development of sustainable and responsible RDI activities with educational institutions, businesses, the public sector, and the third sector, involving citizens extensively. Transparency and openness play a significant role in this work.
  • We develop ecologically, socially, economically, and culturally informed leadership, monitoring, and proactive approaches as part of our sustainable and responsible RDI activities.

Our Actions

  • We promote sustainability and responsibility by integrating education (teachers and students) into cross-border and networked RDI activities through phenomena-based learning. Through skill development, we enhance the quality and relevance of education and strengthen students’ readiness for the sustainable and responsible workforce.
  • We actively and naturally collaborate with regional, national, and international networks to fulfill EU and national sustainability and responsibility goals. We are open to experimentation, conceptualize new ideas, and facilitate new forms of participation.
  • We actively develop our data-driven leadership, knowledge production, megatrend monitoring, and proactive work. We have adopted jointly established criteria to plan, implement, assess, and develop our sustainable and responsible RDI activities. We openly and comprehensibly communicate our activities and results, contributing broadly and participating in societal development in various ways.

We lead responsible lives

Our Goals

  • Every member of the VAMK community actively considers sustainable and responsible choices as part of their work and daily life.
  • We enable and support our staff and students in making sustainable and responsible choices.
  • Our finances and investment activities aim for sustainable development considerations.
  • The Sustainable Development Working Group guides and supports the rest of the organization in the implementation of the Sustainable Development and Responsibility Program, ensuring a common commitment through jointly defined processes.
  • Our goal is to produce an Annual Sustainability Report on our operations.

Our Actions

  • We enable remote and multi-location work for our administrative and support staff. We encourage diverse teaching methods. We strive to participate in meetings and training remotely whenever possible to minimize unnecessary travel.
  • Our shared-use vehicles are natural gas cars, and we also encourage our staff to carpool for work commutes.
  • We facilitate low-emission transportation and support more sustainable commuting by providing the entire staff with the option of using company bicycles and offering the possibility of electric vehicle charging.
  • We systematically explore opportunities to implement renewable energy solutions on campus that could also be used for educational purposes.
  • We maximize the use of campus building technology by optimizing heating and ventilation.
  • We improve waste sorting on campus.
  • We reduce emissions related to procurement by favoring low-emission or emission-free purchases and services and by embracing a circular economy model.
  • In our investment policy, we state our commitment to follow the UN Principles of Responsible Investments. Renewable energy sources and wind power are part of Vaasa University of Applied Sciences’ investment portfolio.

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Showing sympathy is a responsible act – we look after each other!

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Our Goals

  1. We are approachable, trust each other and others. We respect every individual and act as a team, with empathy and appreciation for one another.
  2. We actively support the well-being of both our staff and students.
  3. We systematically develop our leadership and teamwork skills to further enhance the well-being, motivation, competence, and work capacity of our entire staff.
  4. As an employer, VAMK operates economically, ecologically, socially, and culturally responsibly.
  5. We provide our staff with opportunities to update their skills through our extensive partner network.
  6. We listen to and consider the wishes and needs of our students, involving them in decision-making and the development of our operations.

Our Actions

  1. We operate in line with our values, emphasizing humanity, equality, and ethics as integral parts of our daily activities.
  2. We operate and communicate openly and transparently about our activities.
  3. As part of our daily routines, we address identified issues and work capacity risks at an early stage when necessary.
  4. We invest in the well-being, self-guidance, and self-management of our staff.
  5. We prioritize student guidance and well-being.
  6. We involve students in working groups and decision-making bodies. We collaborate closely with the Student Union VAMOK. Co-development is at the core of our activities

Our carbon footprint

Our Goals

  • Our goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
  • We focus annually on reducing emissions from different priority sources identified by Arena.

Our Actions

  • We calculate our carbon footprint annually according to Arena’s calculation model.
  • We actively participate in the development of the calculation model to make it more comprehensive and accurate. However, this should not divert too many resources from concrete emission reduction measures and their planning.
  • We automate our organization’s carbon footprint calculation. This will be done partially as market-available systems allow it, without compromising the accuracy of the calculation.
  • Our operational guidelines take into account emission reduction measures.

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