Green Office Movement

Students Organizing for Sustainability International

At the 5th European Green Office Summit in Ghent, Belgium

Ort: The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom, Belarus, Uganda, Costa Rica
Seit: 2010
Aktiv in: Lehre; Forschung; Wissenschaftskommunikation; Netzwerke aufbauen; Campaigning; Lobbying
Kategorie: Studentische Initiativen

Das übergeordnete Ziel eurer Arbeit:

Our vision is that higher education institutions become catalysts for sustainability. To work towards that vision, we are creating a global movement of university students and staff who are working to make their local institutions more sustainable.


Beschreibt in bis zu 100 Worten, wer ihr seid und was ihr macht:

We are a global movement of local Green Offices at higher education institutions. Unlike traditional sustainability initiatives, a Green Office is funded and approved by university management, and is jointly led by students and staff. Students and staff in the core team are compensated financially or through other benefits for their work, while a broader community is created by involving volunteers at the university and beyond. On an international level, we support students and staff wishing to set up a Green Office with our know-how. At the same time, we facilitate knowledge exchange and cooperation between existing Green Offices.


3 thematische Schwerpunkte eurer Arbeit:

Sustainability in operations: Working to make university campi more sustainable in terms of their operations (like procurement, mobility, energy efficiency).

Education for sustainable development: Including more education for sustainable development in curricula and matching student research with real-life sustainability challenges of local stakeholders.

Community engagement: Creating local communities of sustainability change-makers at university within an international network.


Beschreibt eure Aktivitäten in zehn Stichworten:

Education for sustainable development; Intrapreneurship; Institutionalisation; Movement; Internationalisation; Living Lab; Student empowerment; Sustainable development; Open-source; Accessibility

Wo würdet ihr eure Praxis verorten zwischen…

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Our primary focus is making the higher education sector sustainable in terms of its education, research, community, operations and governance. To some extent, the work we do can serve as a living lab for society at large, but the primary focus is on this one sector.

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The goal of the movement is to achieve tangible changes, primarily through lobbying and pilot projects. Science plays an important role since the setting is the higher education sector, but the goal remains transformative change.

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A core component of our model is that staff, but also students, are compensated for their time. This serves to create fairness, recognition and reliability. However, we also rely on hundreds of people who contribute voluntarily.

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The movement is very practice-oriented – trying to achieve very tangible changes in their local community. Nonetheless, we are a movement of young and ambitious change-makers.

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The movement is turning 10 years in 2020. In the Netherlands, where the movement was born, as well as in Flanders, we are already very well established. However, in Germany we are on the verge of changing from „newcomer“ to „established“ and in the rest of the world we are still a fairly new and innovative phenomenon.

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A core element of our model is that we bring together top-down and bottom-up change-making. Students and staff (bottom-up) are given the resources and institutional support that they need by university management (top-down).

Mit welcher eurer Aktivitäten aus der letzten Zeit seid ihr besonders zufrieden und warum?

We recently organised a web-call on how Green Offices respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was organised relatively short-notice, but nonetheless more than 30 people participated and the results from the call provided a really good overview for Green Office on how they can adjust their work.


Welche Aktivitäten habt ihr als nächstes geplant?

We are launching a „zoom cafe“ where team members from different Green Offices can come together and spontaneously discuss their current projects, challenges and ideas. It will take place twice a month.


Zu welchem Thema würdet ihr gerne arbeiten oder aktiv werden, wenn ihr keinen praktischen Einschränkungen (z.B. Finanzierung, Zeit) unterläget?

Without practical constraints, we would probably work more extensively on bringing the Green Office model to further countries and especially countries that are less wealthy. Through our digital and open-source approach, we are already doing that, but we would be able to more specifically support people in those countries and also translate our materials into further languages.

Stand: April 2020