For more than 20 years, EARTH University’s Environmental Action Unit has been implementing evidence-based solutions that make our Guácimo Campus in Limón, Costa Rica, a greener, more environmentally responsible space for learning and growing.
In this interview, founding unit coordinator Manrique Arguedas shares the actions EARTH has taken to promote sustainable living, form partnerships with other mission-driven institutions, and meaningfully contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030.
Describe the work of the Environmental Action Unit.
The Environmental Action Unit focuses on three areas: 1) management, in which we monitor, keep records about, and implement reductions in the campus’s waste and emissions generation, as well as water and energy use; 2) education, in which we plan and present informative workshops to internal and external audiences of all ages; and 3) extension, in which we foster strategic partnerships to promote institutional solutions to pressing environmental issues.
What are some of your team’s achievements?
We have won countless Bandera Azul awards and have been recognized by Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment & Energy for our pioneering management of environmental resources. We continuously push ourselves to implement thoughtful changes and earn more of these honors because they position EARTH as an environmental leader and a model institution. Thanks to the high-profile example we set, other institutions have been motivated to follow our lead and collaborate with us.
What actions has EARTH taken this year to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
To advance Goal 12 (Responsible Production and Consumption), we are working to accurately measure all waste, including food waste and crop loss. These actions are also linked to Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) and Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). We have promoted Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) by collaborating with other institutions that seek to fulfill the SDGs. We take advantage of each environmental holiday to reinforce goals such as Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). For Goal 13 (Climate Action), we evaluate our greenhouse gas footprint to then encourage reductions. For Goal 4 (Quality Education), we provide trainings on different topics, such as best practices in institutional environmental management, conscious consumption, and responsible production.
How did the Environmental Action Unit manage to inspire the many different populations and departments within the University community to commit to the SDGs?
We have achieved that through open communication, robust interaction, and interdepartmental support. We see our work as a service for the rest of the University, operationally and academically. We help the community understand that taking environmental actions yields benefits for everyone. Plus, it is part of EARTH’s mission and our responsibility as an enlightened institution of higher learning.
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