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Global University Climate Forum

Around the world, college and university students have become increasingly concerned and vocal about climate action. This is a powerful and growing movement that has the potential to change the course of history, yet it is unclear that climate demonstrations or divestment protests will have the desired outcome of comprehensive systemic change to avoid climate disaster.


The Global University Climate Forum brings student activists together to share ideas, learn, connect, and act on the global imperative of addressing climate change.  Offered in the context of the global climate negotiations, this program challenges student teams around the world to propose ideas for local-scale projects that will yield measurable results over the course of six months.  Accepted teams become a cohort that learns together, networks, shares ideas, and contributes to a growing body of inspirational projects that demonstrate the capacity of today’s youth to lead and have an impact.

All proposals must be actionable by students without extensive contingencies and should be designed to yield measurable results over the course of six months. Proposals may reflect ongoing projects and activities so long as they are the intellectual capital of the students applying and there is a projected measurable outcome during the duration of the Forum implementation period. Students will be required to attend online workshops and encouraged to interact with each other over the six months of the Forum. Final projects will be collected into an online publication and showcased in an event after the 2023 climate COP in Abu Dhabi.

The Environmental Innovations Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania leads the Global University Climate Forum on behalf of the International Sustainable Campus Network as a way to engage and inspire the next generation of climate leaders and showcase the value of academic institutions as the Knowledge Sector.

​Learn more about the 16 projects in the 2022 cohort here. The outcomes of the 2020-2021 and 2022 cohorts are featured in the publication, The Knowledge Sector: The role of Higher Education Institutions in addressing Global Environmental Challenges, which contains contributions from Christiana Figueres and Patricia Espinosa, previous Executive Secretaries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Important Milestones

  • 30 March 2023: application deadline (midnight EST)

  • 15 April 2023: selected teams to be announced

  • April 2023: Students are required to participate in orientation workshops

  • May 2023: Monthly reporting and online events commence

  • 16 October 2023: final reports due

  • 30 November to 12 December 2023: COP28 in Abu Dhabi

Note: the Global University Climate Forum is not associated with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and will not have the ability to support student participation in any activities related to the COP.

Image by Javier Miranda

The Knowledge Sector

In 2020, we accepted nearly 600 students in 134 teams from 44 countries to participate in a year-long program in advance of COP26.

The final reports of the students who completed the full program are featured in the online publication, The Knowledge Sector: The role of Higher Education Institutions in addressing Global Environmental Challenges. With a foreword by Patricia Espinosa and Next Steps by Christiana Figueres, the current and previous Executive Secretaries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in addition to showcasing the activities and remarkable contributions of the students of the Global University Climate Forum, this important publication showcases how we can and should rely on universities to teach and research while elevating the thought leadership of today’s college and university students.

Read the full publication here 

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