The Sustainability Roadmap 2025 is ISB’s strategic pathway to evolve into a healthier, more sustainable place of learning. The Roadmap establishes a holistic vision for our future with clear goals and priorities in the areas of learning and sharing, people, planet, and campus. It also encourages students and staff to continue investigating, planning, creating, and acting on sustainability opportunities by using learning experiences inside and outside the classroom to tackle real-world challenges on our campus.
I’m delighted that ISB is making clear its commitment to sustainability. We are building our students’ futures, and our students happen to be about as well-informed on this issue as any adult I’ve met. Their participation in constructing a Roadmap for Sustainability at ISB impresses me and is a demonstration of applying knowledge to real-world situations and ensuring that that knowledge has a positive and measureable impact on everything taking place at ISB.
The Roadmap is one thing; we must commit as a school community to make sure the hard work of its creators is rewarded with action. Who can argue that a commitment to environmental stewardship is anything other than essential? If ISB is going to lead, it must lead in the right realms. Sustainability is a key part of our shared future.
I hope you enjoy reading all facets of this Roadmap and participating in discussions along the way.
Roadmap to a sustainable school
At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school-year, the International School of Beijing made the transformative decision to create a long-term plan of what sustainability should look and feel like at ISB. An essential part of the process is understanding what issues (e.g., climate change, green buildings, healthy food) are important to not just the school leadership but also to the students, staff, parents, alumni and our major partners. To this end, we assembled 25 stakeholders representing all sections of the ISB community along with representatives from the US Green Building Council and a leading green energy company. Using the same L21 skills that are fundamental in our teaching (e.g., global thinking), this stakeholder working group explored the question:
How does ISB impact people and the planet and how can we make sure that impact is a positive one?
During the process, we have identified a number of areas where we have an opportunity and responsibility to generate positive impacts and these were incorporated into the Roadmap. From this Roadmap, we aim to create a sustainable community that contributes to our community and planet. We are dedicated to institutionalizing best practices in sustainable operations and translating teaching into practice by using our campus to pilot innovative solutions. We also have a deeper mandate that goes to the heart of our teaching mission: to educate and empower our students to become the next generation of leaders who will use their knowledge to create sustainable impact in service to the world.
The Sustainability Roadmap 2025 is organized around the four branches (Learning and Sharing, People, Planet, and Campus). Each branch includes numerous leaves with specific statements that are organized within three categories:
1. TARGET/GOAL | Specific level of resource or impact improvement within a set time frame.
2. STANDARD | Operational standards guiding school-wide approach and actions.
3. COMMITMENT | A statement of commitment or recommendation for future research in areas where there was not enough information to set a specific target or a specific statement of support towards an approach or action.
This Roadmap should be seen as a living document. It provides us a common language and baseline from which to explore and innovate. By providing a foundation for reporting and accountability, it also helps us create a platform for assessing and sharing our progress and impact.
Our approach towards developing ISB’s first Sustainability Roadmap was to bring together all parts of the school to provide a diverse set of perspectives. To this end, a Sustainability Working Group of 25 stakeholders including students, staff, parents, leadership, major partners, and external experts was assembled to represent the ISB community. At key stages within the Roadmap’s development, feedback processes were opened up to the entire community with the findings fed back to the Sustainability Working Group to support their work.
Our desire with this process was to create a document that represents the ambitions of the entire community, one that everyone will be committed in making a success.
- Step 1 - Form Sustainability Working Group and develop list of topics (“leaves”) that are relevant and important to ISB.
- Step 2 - Community engagement period on the relevance and importance of the selected 17 leaves.
- Step 3 - Branch Team breakouts (Learning and Sharing, People, Planet, Campus).
- Step 4 - Community engagement of the draft Roadmap.
- Step 5 - Finalize the Roadmap utilizing community feedback.
Sustainability Roadmap 2025
ISB began a journey towards a more sustainable future in 2018 with the creation of its Sustainability Working Group, a multi-stakeholder group consisting of students, staff, administration, parents, partners and global businesses, with the aim of answering two questions:
Where are we now?
Where do we aspire to be?
To support the achievement of the Sustainability Roadmap 2025, ISB's Sustainability Action Plan was created, which you can download here.
Opportunities for Student Growth
Utilizing a Service Learning Experience approach in combination with the United Nation Sustainability Development Goals, students across ISB are provided opportunities to engage in responsible global citizenship both in the curriculum and in co-curricular activities.
The UNSDGs provide a wonderful platform to generate service learning opportunities around the greatest global issues of our generation. The commitments made in this Sustainability Roadmap positively correlate with a number of targets developed by the United Nations to address these issues, including:
Target 4.A | Build and upgrade education facilities that are child disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
Target 6.4 | By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.
Target 7.2 | By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Target 11.6 | By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
Target 12.5 | By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse.
Target 13.3 | Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.
Implementing & Impactful Sharing
ISB’s sustainability program is overseen by our Head of School and Chief Financial/Operating Officer with develop and implementation of the program, including strategy and initiatives, being the responsibility of Sustainability Manager. Students and staff voice will continue to be an integral part of the program’s implementation via the Net Impact ISB student club and staff Green Team.
The Sustainability Manager works in close collaboration with departments throughout the school that oversee specific operational or administrative areas to reach the targets/goals, standards, and commitments of the Roadmap.
This Plan should be viewed as a living document: it will evolve and change over time, with a formal process to review, update, or establish new targets/goals, standards, and commitments every five years (next iteration being 2025).
In our commitment to sharing our story and amplifying our impact, progress towards the Roadmap and subsequent Action Plan will be communicated internally and external periodically including an annual online Sustainability Impact Report.
Students coordinated with school administration to make a symbolic yet impactful statement on sustainability, in the latest sign of a new generation of environmental leaders rising at ISB.
Visitors to campus lately will have seen neat new recycling bins in the hallways. They are the work of a new generation of environmental leaders committed to transforming how the ISB community manages its waste.
Students got what they campaigned for when two emission-free vehicles were added to ISB's bus fleet recently. A survey has fueled plans to introduce more of these green chariots.