Using the Earth Charter in campus sustainability report

The University of Georgia, Costa Rica campus, included in its 2011-2012 Sustainability Report an analysis of its operations based on the Earth Charter Ethics-Based Assessment Tool (EC Assess).
The UGA Costa Rica 2011-2012 Sustainability Report aims to highlight sustainability initiatives of the UGA Costa Rica campus, spread awareness of the importance of sustainable campus operations to the greater UGA community and beyond, and serve as an impetus for future advancements in sustainability at UGA Costa Rica.

There are 11 sustainability goals that UGA Costa Rica tries to address, in the following categories:

  • Resource Efficiency
  • Carbon Neutrality
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Education and Training
  • General Operations
  • External Certifications

UGA Costa Rica formally endorsed the Earth Charter in 2009. As a part of the 2011 sustainability audit, sustainability intern Dana Schroeder used the Earth Charter’s Ethics-Based Assessment Tool to add a new dimension to the evaluation of campus sustainability.

The Earth Charter’s Ethics-Based Assessment Tool asks respondents to rate the sustainability of the overall operation based on each Earth Charter sub-principle. For the 2011 analysis, all on-site campus administrators completed the evaluation individually, while staff members in the kitchen, housekeeping, maintenance, security, and volunteer/intern departments were surveyed in groups according to their respective department.

This exercise was done to address Sustainability Goal 7, under Education and Training:  “7. By 2011, develop and implement a sustainability training program for the UGA Costa Rica”. With the EC Assess exercise, UGA Costa Rica was able to assess the campus staff’s perceptions of its campus sustainability practices and how the operation might improve its performance.

UGA Costa Rica’s Athens Office is also embracing the Earth Charter’s principles of an ethics-based approach to sustainability. Students who receive scholarships for study abroad programs are encouraged to give back by volunteering in the Athens community, particularly in helping members of the local Latino community, as well as assisting in the UGArden. UGA Costa Rica also worked with student alumni to form a UGA Costa Rica Relay for Life team during Spring term 2012, raising money for cancer research.

Read the full 2011-2012 Sustainability Report of UGA Costa Rica. Pages 36-39 contain the specific information about the EC Assess results.

This analysis serves as an example of how EC Assess can be used by an organization to evaluate sustainability and hopefully other organizations will feel inspired to try this exercise.