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How we got University of Oslo to divest in less than a year.

Our group, Future in Our Hands Oslo Student Team (Framtiden i Våre Hender), started campaigning in January 2016 to get the University of Oslo (UiO) to divest their bonds and holdings from fossil fuel companies. Our campaign consisted of three interrelated parts:

Public campaigning

The first was an activist and stunt-based campaign consisting of an online petition, a home made movie about divestment, sticker and note stunt and a huge banner drop from campus among others.

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Engaging decision-makers

The second part was focused on lobbying. Here we both worked with the student parliament and other environmental organizations connected to the University to make the movement as big and far-reaching as possible. We also had several meetings with the principal and the fund manager of UNIFOR, the organization managing the University’s funds. This was to keep the dialogue open and make sure the University´s management felt we were working with them instead of against them.

Making headlines

The last part of the campaign consisted of getting media coverage. Articles in the student paper lead to a big media discussion in the paper putting FossilFreeUiO forward as an important cause for the students and faculty. A big victory came after a radio interviewwe secured after the banner drop. In this interview the principal promised the University was going to develop a strategy for how they would be able to divest. The strategy was set to be ready by the end of 2016.

On November 30th 2016 we finally got the message we had been waiting almost a year for. The University is divesting all their funds and holdings from coal, oil and gas companies within 5 years. UNIFOR manages funds worth two billion NOK for UiO and two other universities. 183 million NOK of this is now going to be divested within 5 years to make the universities fossil free. This was both exciting and unexpected at the same time. There was a big change in rhetoric from the initial meetings we had with UNIFOR and the principal to the message they now bring.

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This is the result of weeks of planning and many hours spent on the different stunts and actions. We have also had tremendous help from experts in our organization contributing with media advice and help, investigative digging into the University’s investments, and motivation. This victory is a huge deal for the divestment movement in both Norway and the rest of the world. As the University of Oslo together with the other two universities on UNIFOR’s portfolio are the biggest universities in Norway, we hope the great news will inspire other universities and colleges in the country to follow suit.

But we still have more work to do. Many of the universities in Norway collaborate closely with the petroleum industry in ways that are worth looking at more closely. We hope this has shown the possibilities students and organizations have at producing effective change on universities to take their role as a driver of societal change and transformation seriously.

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