Vision for the Development of the Green Office Movement

The purpose of this vision is to… 

  1. inspire Green Offices to identify how they can become more impactful
  2. encourage collaboration among Green Offices to learn from each other
Green Office Movement logo

What is the Green Office Movement?

We are a global movement of students, staff and academics working to advance sustainability in and through higher education.

Our vision is that higher education institutions become catalysts for sustainability. This means that…

  • education empowers students as change-makers
  • research guides sustainability transitions
  • campus operations use resources responsibly, and
  • students and staff act on sustainability in their personal and professional lives.

The Green Office (GO) Model, a student-led and staff-supported sustainability platform, is at the core of this movement, as we believe in the effectiveness of this model to bring about the above vision, especially when combined with other approaches.

Where have we come so far?

Since the first Green Office was set up in Maastricht in 2010, we have

  • grown into an international network of 40 Green Offices, 65+ GO Initiatives and 8 partner organizations
  • gained recognition as one of the best ESD projects by the UNESCO,
  • created ca 200 sustainability jobs and sustainability career prospects for students and staff,
  • implemented successful projects to raise awareness, engage students and staff and embed sustainability in curriculum, research, governance and operations.

How can we develop further?

Considering we have a decade left to respond adequately to the global challenges we face, how can we as the Green Office Movement further develop our responses?

1. Deepen our impact

  • Radically reduce socio-ecological footprints of university processes and people’s behaviours: circularity in operations, (flight) emission reductions, vegan/vegetarian catering, eliminate waste, …
  • Get more active on curriculum change and research: living labs, competency-development, sustainability courses, applied research projects, …
  • Prepare students as leaders of tomorrow: extra-curricular engagement opportunities, internships, business case challenges, working with NGOs, …
  • Go beyond the eco-bubble by working more on social and economic sustainability: new economies, refugees, gender, law,…
  • Gain stronger institutional influence within the university & institutional support for student engagement: higher profile of the GO, legitimacy, funding, access, participation, autonomy,  …
  • Engage staff more systematically: for instance through Green Impact
  • Get more political in our activities: write petitions, join strikes, endorse manifestos, (help) to organise protests with movements like Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion

2. Widen our engagement

  • Collaborate more with diverse stakeholders to co-design and implement activities, facilitate exchange and cooperation, and create a critical mass
    • with other student organisations to reach more students, strengthen capacities, realise synergies, and mobilize our collective voice
    • with academics: professors, PhDs, and teachers to raise awareness
    • with actors beyond the campus: municipalities, NGOs, enterprises, political movements: learn from them, co-organize activities, support their efforts
  • Accelerate the learning and collaboration among Green Offices and other networks: share goals and strategies, exchange successes, support each other’s challenges, organize joint campaigns
  • Engage more students not yet interested or aware of sustainability: raise awareness, offer opportunities
  • Engage more voluntary members in self-organized project teams
  • Adapt the GO model to more diverse cultural and socio-economic contexts

3. Lengthen our continuity

  • Ensure effective team transitions in the face of high fluctuation of students
  • Strengthen the engagement of GO alumni as change-makers in companies, political parties, municipalities, NGOs, and civil society initiatives
  • Strengthen support of GO alumni for better knowledge transfer and project continuity in Green Offices
  • Stronger regional networks to ensure continuity of the Green Office movement independent of SOS international

>> See the overview of activities and challenges of GO and the project overview for more details about what GOs are doing about these topics!<<

How can you contribute?

  • Set up a Green Office or help others to do so, using our online course and sustainability resources as guidance
  • Reflect with your team and your members on how you can develop your activities and internal organisation (see the team health check) to become more impactful, using this document as inspiration.
  • Share insightful stories on the GO movement facebook group and add to the overview of activities and challenges about successful projects, effective strategies, and learnings from failed attempts to inspire others to develop in the areas mentioned above (tip: the person in your team responsible for communications can do this)
  • Connect with other GOs to reflect, exchange, and organize around specific topics you care about: host a session at the GO online summit, self-organise a call or meet-up, post your question in the GO movement FB group, …

Take a lead to organize ways the movement can further develop: engage as alumni to spread the GO model and support existing GOs, organize a joint campaign, co-develop ideas for high-impact projects, organize a multi-stakeholder panel discussion (like Perspektive N), etc.

Any questions, ideas, suggestions?

Write Tim, the Green Office Movement coordinator
or post in the Green Office Movement Facebook group.