The University of Graz was founded in 1585 and is the second oldest university and one of the largest institutions of higher education in Austria. Numerous outstanding scientists, among them six Nobel Prize winners, have taught and researched here. With more than 31,000 students and about 4,000 employees, the University of Graz makes an essential contribution to the vibrant life in and around the University region. Thanks to its geopolitical location, close to the borders to Hungary and Slovenia, the University of Graz is an important gateway to South-Eastern Europe and promotes lively scientific, economic and cultural exchange with this region.
The pro-active sustainability process at the University of Graz started in 1991 with the establishment of an interdisciplinary study program “Environmental Systems Sciences”, followed by signing the COPERNICUS Charta (1995) and the establishment of oikos Graz – Students for Sustainable Economics and Management in 2002. These first initiatives led to a strong cooperation with the university management team to foster sustainability actions at the university. A number of workshops involving students and staff, a sustainability newsletter and a sustainability library were the first actions growing from this cooperation.
Since 2005, the University of Graz is active in sustainability reporting based upon GRI guidelines and has a fully employed sustainability coordinator and commissioner both responsible for introducing sustainability into educational, research and governance programmes across the University. In 2007 the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Graz-Styria was founded which fosters interaction between university and society by following a transdisciplinary approach. In 2009 "Sustainability4U" was established – a regional cooperation model including all four universities in the city of Graz. Furthermore, University of Graz is part of the “Austrian Alliance of Sustainable Universities” and the initiative "UniNEtZ".
The University of Graz has been the recipient of the Austrian Sustainability Award five times. In 2014, the University won an award together with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna and the Technical University Graz for the teaching resources platform “Sustainicum Collection”; in 2012 for its barrier-free mobility project “UniMobility4All”; in 2010 for the establishment of the “RCE Graz-Styria: Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development” as well as for “Sustainability4U”; and in 2008 for its Joint Degree Master Programme “Sustainable Development”.