In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, President James Dean has joined 26 colleges and universities in signing a call to action that aims to accelerate climate solutions in higher education institutions. The Intentional Endowments Network/Second Nature Call to Action for Higher Education Leadership is a response to the increasing pace and intensity of global climate change and a recognition of higher education’s ability to help advance solutions through research, education and public engagement.
“Signing the call to action was a natural fit for UNH,” says Fiona Wilson, director of the UNH Sustainability Institute. “As the state’s flagship public university, a commitment to the public good is central to UNH’s mission.”
Nine guiding principles help shape university policy, including climate action plans and aligning endowment investments. UNH is one of only five higher education institutions in the country to earn a STARS Platinum rating — the highest — from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Its campus is powered by 100% renewable electricity, the majority of which comes from waste landfill gas and local hydroelectric power, putting it on the fast track to carbon neutrality. The university’s Energy Task Force is developing a new WildCAP (Climate Action Plan) with the goal of having net-zero emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2050.
In addition, UNH was an early adopter of resilient climate solutions and is an innovator in aligning endowment investments with sustainability. In 2019, the UNH Foundation moved 16% of investable assets — $37 million — into environmental, social and governance-qualified (ESG) investments, making it one of the few higher education institutions in the country to take this approach.
“As the state’s flagship public university, a commitment to the public good is central to UNH’s mission.”
In celebration of Earth Day (April 22), the Sustainability Institute has organized a variety of virtual events, open to all, including a virtual tour of the UNH campus that highlights some of the university’s sustainability pride points.
"As we honor Earth Day, the world is facing two major challenges — the climate crisis and COVID-19,” says Wilson. “UNH recognizes the importance of taking action on both issues to create a healthy and just future for all.”