Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan has been recognized as a GUPES Finalist for this year’s Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability Green Gown Awards.

XU was one of the four academic institutions in Asia and the Pacific in the Community Engagement category, along with Aklan State University (GUPES Finalist), De La Salle University (GUPES Highly Commended), and Fiji National University (GUPES Winner).

GUPES Green Gown Awards winners were announced at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, USA on September 13. Universities from five global regions went head to head to become the inaugural GUPES Green Gown Awards winners. Entries were wide ranging from solar dancing flowers to fog catchers to protecting Nemo to aboriginal engagement, among other initiatives.

‘Solid Waste Management Program: The Ateneo Way’

As a Jesuit university, Xavier participates in the Jesuit mission of reconciliation with God, reconciliation with others, and reconciliation with creation. Environmental protection is embedded in the university mission. The “Solid Waste Management Program: The Ateneo Way” aims to improve the cleanliness of the university and to attain zero waste.

The program has achieved results that include support from top management; procurement of color-coded bins strategically located in grounds, hallways, and offices; operation of Materials Recovery and vermicomposting facilities; monthly revenue from recyclable materials; initiation of information, education and communication campaign; and recognition of University initiatives at local and international level.

The SWM process includes: 1) Segregation at the source; 2) Collection of solid material; 3) Cleaning, sorting and storage of recyclable materials; and 4) Disposal to the controlled dumpsite.

Xavier University, as an academic institution, is considered a catalyst in supporting the Philippine government in its solid waste management program.

GUPES Green Gown Awards

Established in 2004, the GUPES Green Gown Awards is a joint initiative supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) that expands the Green Gown Awards further across the globe with an emphasis on recognizing and sharing successes for sustainability.

GUPES aims to position universities and colleges as leaders in sustainability as well as enabling them to continue their learning from global leaders. The GUPES Green Gown Awards were open to GUPES members across five regions (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America).

The GUPES Green Gown Award Winner from each of the regions will automatically be entered into the International Green Gown Awards contest.

“Universities are a rich source of innovation, commitment, and passion for a sustainable future of people and planet in harmony,” said Monika MacDevette of the UNEP. “The GUPES Green Gown Awards showcase this and provide a source of inspiration and can-do spirit that the UN Environment Programme applauds and celebrates.”

Role of the academe

A network of over 800 universities and colleges, the prestigious award-giving body lauds exceptional environmental sustainability initiatives and best practices.

The categories include Community Engagement for Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean; Continuous Improvement and Institutional Change for Africa; and Student Engagement for Europe and North America.

The education sector is a critical player in ensuring that future generations are equipped with the skills and experience required to provide a sustainable future. The GUPES Green Gown Awards celebrate those that are taking the bold steps necessary to develop resilience and adaptability and to showcase the education sector’s contribution to society.

“All around the world universities are beacons of hope for a more sustainable future. The GUPES Green Gown Awards recognize and celebrate the powerful contribution of university staff and students and most importantly let us learn and benefit from their excellence,” said EAUC chief executive officer Iain Patton.

The GUPES Awards help to achieve the United Nations Environment Assembly Resolution “investing in human capacity for sustainable development through environmental education and training,” the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the outcome document from Rio+20 Summit: The Future We Want.

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