The National Union of Students (NUS-UK) is a voluntary membership organisation, run by students for students at universities in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1922, NUS-UK is headquartered in one of the greenest buildings in London and has national offices in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Through 600 students’ union members, NUS-UK represents the interests of over 7 million students with the aim to fight discrimination, isolation and injustice, and promote, defend and extend student rights.
The “Green Impact” is a change and engagement programme in its tenth year covering themes from wellbeing and happiness to traditional environmental management. Based on social change theory, it enables, accredits and awards university departments for sustainability efforts while helping them reduce costs. Training students as mentors, the programme encourages university staff to make their workplace “greener” while generating economic savings.
The Green Impact framework ranges from simple actions such as advice on double sided printing to setting up an ethical credit union. Through peer to peer engagement, the programme creates collaboration across departments and institutions, and provides legitimacy by empowering students and staff to shape their own departments. Participating teams gain credits for sustainability actions – such as encouraging the use of local transport and bikes, creating a community garden or abolishing plastic cups in the canteen – and can achieve a bronze, silver or gold award every year.
Having reached more than 100,000 university students and staff, the Green Impact framework is already being adapted by institutions outside higher education, such as hospitals and fire brigades.
In the last ten years, NUS-UK has trained more than 3,600 students; 239,792 sustainability actions have been completed, 143,753 of them as a direct result of the scheme.
The National Union of Students has been rewarded by the 2016 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development which honours outstanding efforts by individuals, institutions, organizations or other entities engaged in promoting Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), within the framework of the Global Action Programme (GAP) for ESD.
International Jury recommendation
“This student-led project provides a model of scalability and applicability beyond the UK, and already has evidence of impact beyond Higher Education into the workplace, and evidence of outreach and emulation internationally. There is commendable demonstration of impact and wide uptake, and the project is an exemplar of youth leadership in educational change. Further, the initiative is sustainable in terms of generating funding and facilitating widespread engagement.”
For more information: Read the full story (PDF)
- Green Impact website
- Green Impact video playlist
- UNESCO-Japan Prize on ESD
- Global Action Programme on ESD