By Matthew Yamatin, ISB Sustainability Manager
Just two years ago, the International School of Beijing (ISB) made the transformative decision to establish a long-term plan managing our impact on people and the planet. With the help of our community and inspiration from organizations around the world including Harvard University and Unilever that have done likewise, we created a five-year roadmap with firm targets and commitments.
A commitment of the roadmap was to be open and transparent with students, staff, and parents about our progress. Today, we fulfill this commitment by publishing our first Sustainability Impact Report, covering the 2019 calendar year. ISB is the first international school in the world to publish such a report, continuing its history of being a leader and innovator in education.
Sustainable ISB is about more than reducing our impact on air pollution and the climate by using electric buses or becoming more efficient to reduce our electricity and natural gas bills. Sustainable ISB at its core is about providing the best foundation for students to learn. Students are involved in every project we implement, providing them real-world research, project management, and presentation skills – a learning experience unique to ISB.
Here’s what Sustainable ISB meant to Louisa Song, a 2019 ISB graduate:
“I feel proud to be a part of a community where sustainability is a priority. To value sustainability is to place the needs of future generations above those of the present, and with the state of the world today, it is clear that this is easier said than done. In that regard, I applaud ISB for not only outlining the necessary steps to become a more sustainable school through its roadmap but also keeping itself accountable by turning these plans into actions and reporting progress.
“Above all, I am most grateful for ISB’s determination to engage the entire school community in its sustainability journey. During my Senior year, I was invited to join a working group of several community stakeholders that convened to bring diverse perspectives to the ISB Sustainability Roadmap 2025. That experience allowed me to develop my confidence and voice, two factors that have been integral to my growth as a person.
“In the student group Net Impact ISB, I was provided a safe space to test and implement creative solutions that contribute to sustainability. Thanks to this experience, I feel comfortable proposing ideas to improve the sustainability of any community I’m in. I am very pleased that the next generation of students at ISB will be given even more incredible opportunities to grow into leaders who truly value sustainability.”
ISB believes taking purposeful action to positively impact people and the planet is critical, potentially even more so during these challenging times. We hope our sharings inspire other education institutions to look inward and chart a path forward. China has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2060 – other countries and organizations are making similar pledges. Now is the time for schools, colleges, and universities to act, both within your own organization and to empower young people with the skills needed to meet these new challenges head on.