The National Wildlife Federation's EcoLeaders Program supports regional campus networks, collaborative groups of colleges and universities advancing climate and sustainability solutions. EcoLeaders aims to achieve the following five goals with these networks:
1) Assist campuses in achieving their goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement the Presidents Climate Commitment.
EcoLeaders' number one priority is to help each campus make steady and substantial cuts in their climate footprints by sharing our own resources and expertise. Leaders will gain valuable knowledge and skills through:
2) Facilitate the exchange of resources and best practices that are adapted to a region’s particular political, economic, and geographic contexts.
Online resources currently provided by EcoLeaders, AASHE, and other organizations make it easy to find general information about a project or topic, but region-specific information can be hard to come by. By sharing their collective knowledge and experience, participants could:
3) Foster partnerships between campuses and community organizations.
At the heart of most campus mission statements is the goal of empowering students to make a positive contribution to society. Through internships and service learning projects, students can gain valuable real-world experience while supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy in their communities. Similarly, colleges and universities have begun to share their resources and expertise with local and state partnerships for sustainability. Possible partnerships include:
Much of the critical work that needs to happen can be accomplished more efficiently at larger scales. Working through a Climate Action Network, campuses can negotiate better rates and drive demand for green products. Projects might include:
5) Empower campuses to use their expertise to advocate for better climate policies.
As states, municipalities, and families make efforts to reduce their climate footprints, campuses have the opportunity and responsibility to support public policies that cut net emissions, revitalize the economy, protect natural resources, and contribute to national security. This work might entail:
In working towards each of these goals, colleges are able to leverage the power of their network and non-campus partnerships to accomplish something that would have been beyond their individual reaches.
Campuses and communities alike can reap benefits ten-fold in their initial investment of time and resources.
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