top of page

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.


The University of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Innovations Initiative is leading the current iteration of the Global University Climate Forum in collaboration with the International Sustainable Campus Network as a way to engage and inspire the next generation climate leaders and showcase the value of academic institutions as the Knowledge Sector. Building on past successes and lessons learned as well as current dialogues, the 2022 Forum invited students to apply through four tracks:


  • Transformative Change: Develop a project or product that will help elucidate how personal choices connect to systemic change.

  • Inspiration and Empowerment: Develop a creative approach to raising awareness and influencing others using tactics such as video, art, writing, or social media

  • Ideas into Action: Propose a student-led climate-related project on campus or in the community that will affect measurable change over the course of 6 months.

  • Innovation and Imagination: For projects that do not fit into the other tracks, ideas in this category can be revolutionary, entrepreneurial, and creative.


All proposals must be actionable by students without extensive contingencies and should be designed to yield measurable results over the course of four 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.

You can learn more about the 16 projects in the current iteration here

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 

bottom of page