I nipped down to the Eden Centre on Friday last week. All these years on, it still makes such an impact – and it was brilliant to hear from the wonderful Tim Smit that the Eden Project he’s been trying to get off the ground in China is about to get off the ground for real! And because it’s China, with 1.3 billion people to be wowed, the first one will be followed in short order by at least a couple more!

We were there to launch a new initiative pulled together by the National Union of Students – an international campaign called Students Organising for Sustainability.

A few years ago, the NUS was something of a bit-part player in the world of HE/FE sustainability. But now it’s buzzing with energy and good ideas, working closely with organisations like People and Planet and others in the sector to inspire students to get stuck in on a whole range of activities – on climate, food, procurement, curriculum reform, divestment and so on.

Being a child of the late 1960s – the last time that students in the UK were seriously up in arms about creating a different world – I sort-of keep hoping that the disgraceful way in which my generation continues to trash whatever prospects today’s students might have, for a decent life in the future, might precipitate a similar kind of uprising. For now, that seems unlikely; a combination of student debt, reduced job prospects, and unbelievably expensive housing has somehow limited the attractions of a life of youthful revolt.

But the anger is still there, as was clear in the margins of the SOS launch. As was the determination to campaign for the solutions, as well as to protest against the problems. So the divestment campaign (persuading universities to withdraw their investments from fossil fuel companies, particularly coal) is matched by a parallel demand to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Divest – invest.

For me, that opens up a possibility of a rather broader campaign – to get every single university in the country to commit (preferably before the Paris Conference in a few weeks!) to a 100% renewable energy policy within the next five years. Or ten max. After all, many of the world’s largest multinational companies are now out there with 100% renewable energy pledges, over different timescales, so why shouldn’t UK universities do the same? They all see themselves as progressive businesses, after all!

This is one of the ideas I’ll be raising later today at a meeting organised by London South Bank University. This is not one of the most sustainable universities in the land, but its new Deputy Vice-Chancellor is a guy called Pat Bailey, who has big ambitions for LSBU. Pat used to be Pro Vice-Chancellor at Keele when I started there as Chancellor three years ago, and was incredibly helpful in showing me both the huge potential for change in the HE sector – and some of the inevitable barriers!

One of the things he did at Keele was to create space for an exhibition of brilliant photos, called WHOLE EARTH – mounted and masterminded by the inimitable Mark Edwards. As it happens, an updated version of WHOLE EARTH was there as an inspirational centrepiece for students attending the SOS event at the Eden Project on Friday.

From one generation to the next, as it were!