Since a few years, Studenten voor Morgen has started to incorporate the Dutch Green Office (GO) Movement. Only last September, the position of Green Office Coordinator has been brought to life, a position that is a part of both Morgen and rootAbility, the organisation working on the Green Office Model and its dispersion. Last week, the first GO – founded in Maastricht in 2010 – celebrated its fifth birthday and DuurzameStudent was there to see it happen. The coming months, readers of DuurzameStudent will be given an exclusive insight into the different Offices as our new GO Coordinator (Valerie Brown) will be doing profiles on all GOs throughout the country.
At the end of September, the UNESCO international prize for Sustainable Development was awarded to rootAbility and the Green Office Model. The founders of rootAbility, who also founded GO Maastricht two years prior to rootAbility’s establishment, won 50.000 USD in prize money for their efforts for the GO Movement. Today GO Maastricht is one of eight in the Netherlands and one of fourteen world-wide, even without counting eleven initiatives that did not yet secure funding and numerous groups that are in earlier stages of developing a GO. At their recent five-year celebration, we found a welcome with ‘Limburgse vlaai’ and many smiling faces talking about the past five years, getting to know each other’s’ activities and – most of all – considering what could be their goals for the coming five years.
Like Studenten voor Morgen, rootAbility believes that universities should act as engines of sustainability transitions, which can be done through GOs. The main characteristics of the GO Model ensure that the energy of students is used to its fullest potential, by securing support, resources and legitimacy from the university in which the GO is situated. The presentations at the five-year celebration gave a clear insight into the diversity of activities a GO can pursue. Examples from Maastricht include projects promoting sustainable printing, e-waste management and catering at the university, and projects reaching out to students at sustainable working days, montly mingles and film series. These stem from the pillars operations and community, which are two out of four pillars into which GO Maastricht divides up its tasks. The other two – education and research – include projects like the Living Lab (facilitating students to research sustainability within their university), the Maastricht Journal of Sustainability Studies, and SUSTAIN+GO, a student-run sustainability course.
The GO has proved to be a great way of involving both students and staff in university sustainability. Even though all GOs are based on the same principles, the different university contexts make for diverging ways of bringing these into practice. Some GOs have a board, others have paid employees and again others use internships. Some have big spaces that are used as general sustainability hubs on campus, while others have smaller office spaces or are still lobbying to get their own space. In the coming months, all GOs will take turns being in Valerie Brown’s spotlight, who will provide us with a monthly profile on their motivations, activities and employees. The goal of this series is to get an overview of all GOs, get students to go and find (or found) the GO at their own university, and to give sustainability enthusiasts in general a chance to get to know this growing movement.