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Prime Minister Bondevik opened the Global Virtual University (GVU)

Virtual doors are open for international university with a focus on development and environment. Administered by GRID-Arendal together with core partners the United Nations University, the United Nations Environment Programme and Agder University College.

The virtual doors are open for international university with a focus on development and environment

Arendal, Norway, 17 June 2003 - Kjell Magne Bondevik, the Norwegian Prime Minister, today opened the doors of the Global Virtual University (GVU) under the auspices of the United Nations University (UNU). The GVU is a network university, which is hosted by GRID-Arendal, with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as key international partner.

In his inauguration speech the Prime Minister said: “The Global Virtual University is a pioneer project that will help meet the educational needs of the developing world.
Many students in many different countries will be able to benefit from the courses. With the help of UNEP, Agder University College and other institutions in the North and in the South, students will learn how natural resources and ecosystems can best be managed for the benefit of present and future generations. The courses will give tomorrow's decision-makers the tools to help fight poverty and environmental degradation. This project is a true partnership where different sectors and actors pool resources to achieve sustainable solutions together. It is in the spirit of last year's Johannesburg Summit, where world leaders called for the implementation and follow-up of global goals at the national and local levels."

Hans van Ginkel, Rector of the UNU, underlined the benefits of the GVU. "I am very optimistic about the empowering nature of online learning in the digital and connected economy. That is why I am an ardent supporter of the Global Virtual University. The access, the mobility, the flexibility and ultimately the ability to effect change on the part of those educated via the GVU, if we do this properly, could help to make the future so different from the present."

Ernst Håkon Jahr, Rector of Agder University College (AUC), said “the AUC has many years of experience in conducting and teaching development studies and through the GVU network the institution will strengthen competencies within this field and further develop international work.”

UNEP also emphasised the network and partnership side of the GVU. Shafqat Kakakhel, UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director said in his speech: “The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) believes that the Global Virtual University (GVU) represents a significant contribution to education for sustainable development, and is proud to be associated with this initiative together with the Government of Norway, the United Nations University, Agder University College, and GRID-Arendal.  UNEP is particularly pleased that the Global Environment Outlook 3 (GEO-3) report is being used as the basis for the first full GVU course”.

The GVU promotes an international collaborative network of equal partner universities that develops joint courses. These institutions will issue common diplomas and will develop joint academic degrees.

The university builds on cutting edge information and communication technology and will use the best of e-Learning and modern pedagogical approaches. Most courses will offer face-to-face meetings and on-campus learning. The GVU focuses on developing learning programmes on sustainable development and will soon offer a master’s degree in environment and development.

GRID-Arendal, as the host institution, seeks to take advantage of the educational competence of the GVU to develop further its capacity as an information broker in international capacity building and dissemination of environmental information.  GRID-Arendal also expects to contribute to the development of courses on sustainable development and be an efficient administrative and coordinating partner.

Harald Holt, GVU Director emphasised that “the GVU ambition is to bring partner universities around the world into a collaborative partnership in order to take advantage of e-Learning at its best and promote sustainable development.”

Some of the on-campus sessions of the GVU will take place in Arendal, the host city. The mayor of Arendal, Alf-Eivind Ljøstad, expresses his satisfaction and pride with the new international institution. “It is with great pride that Arendal welcomes the UNU/GVU to our city. The GVU offers Arendal a possibility of taking part in a global network and strengthening the presence of UNEP/GRID and we will do our best to make the GVU a success here in South Norway.”

For more information contact Media Officer Marianne Hartz, +47 37035717, or GVU Director Harald Holt, + 47 37035701,, Mobile: +47 90101260.
Please also consult the GVU web site:


Tuesday 17 Jun 2003
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