Glasgow Paper Web - Facilities, Operations, and Procurement

The climate crisis is the single problem that undermines all other priorities. As such, we must dedicate human and financial resources to identifying every opportunity to tackle it. While air travel rightly receives attention as the area with the greatest potential for decarbonization in the sector, we can also reduce emissions in other areas including our buildings, commuting habits, printing and shipping practices, procurement management, and more.

As is the case with other sectors, we can increase energy efficiency by retrofitting buildings and optimizing our use of space. We must insist on low-carbon heating and cooling at all sites where we operate and turn off climate control when not in use. Other actions include installing passive solar to eliminate the need for artificial lights during daylight hours and in the evenings lights should be operated by motion sensors. Emissions from daily commutes can be dramatically reduced by permanently adopting flexible and equitable work-from-home policies. Similarly, when delivering conferences and other events, virtual attendance options and climate-conscious catering practices should be standard.

The work of international education is inherently collaborative with colleagues around the globe intertwined by individual responsibilities contributing to shared outcomes. As such, international educators ought to conduct risk-mapping exercises to determine the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the climate crisis on key markets and destinations. Likewise, the contracts that outline the terms and conditions of our partnerships and purchases can be instruments of positive influence when they communicate each party’s climate commitments, actions, and expectations. HEIs should leverage the procurement process to invest in, support, and influence agents and other partners to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their carbon handprint. By adding climate action criteria to the contract and procurement process, international educators signal their desire to work with suppliers who have established strong climate action strategies.

If implemented uniformly across the sector, digital marketing materials could effectively replace printing and shipping of brochures while avoiding the creation of an unfair advantage. In addition to significantly reducing waste (and the GHG and raw materials required to create brochures), this would free up much-needed funds to support climate-focused positions and other solutions. Additionally, rapidly changing student expectations suggest that those who continue to print materials and give away disposable trinkets may soon be in stark misalignment with students’ values and, therefore, at a market disadvantage.

Although the footprint of virtual communication and digital marketing technologies is vastly lower than traditional forms, it is not zero. On the contrary, emissions from virtual communications are projected to increase rapidly as more areas of our lives move online. Therefore, to avoid increasing emissions, virtual options should replace in-person communication and print marketing; not added to existing practices.

Facilities, operations, and procurement actions are defined in Article 7 of the CANIE Accord.