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09 June 2023


Green Light-Year Partnership

Green Light-Year Partnership

Partnership Category:

External partnerships on an Institutional level – e.g. community partnerships (such as with local government, with business associations, with NGOs)

Name of Partner:

Green Light-Year NGO

Name of Partnership:

Green Light-Year Partnership

Primary purpose:

Community engagement and student learning through community impact projects

Secondary purpose:

Enhance SDG integration into curriculum on a regional and national level within secondary and higher education

Contact for this partnership:

Helen Ni, CEO

Practical involvement:

The partnership between IBSS and Green Light-Year is multifaceted, featuring mutually-beneficial collaboration on a wide range of projects.

Green Light-Year's China Eco-Apprenticeship Programme (CEAP): IBSS regularly sponsors its students to join Green Light-Year sustainability case workshops and research projects. The first of these projects saw students work as business consultants for sustainable bamboo product companies in impoverished regions of China under the guidance of industry experts. In 2020, approximately 20 IBSS students engaged in a Green Light-Year research project for the Suzhou government on how to support local “unicorn” and “gazelle” type businesses in applying to the UN procurement system. In 2021, GLY trained 16 IBSS students under CEAP project on Suzhou's 471 unicorn and gazelle companies' awareness and willingness of joining Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi). The results showed only 9 companies knew about carbon management and are practising certain carbon management standards due to their MNC clients' requirement. This report has been included in the book of SBTi which is sponsored by IBSS and the School of Science at XJTLU and has been quoted by a few carbon management experts in China. In 2022, 10 IBSS students participated in the CEAP internship which conducted research into digital inclusion in Chinese ICTs using the methodology from the World Benchmarking Alliance - a partner organisation of both Green Light-Year and IBSS. This is slated to be published in Fall 2023.

Student Internships and Support: Green Light-Year has been a consistent source of internships in areas related to sustainability and ESD for both IBSS and the university as a whole. As part of their internship with Green Light-Year in 2022, three student groups from IBSS made it to the UNEP Competition on Sustainability global finals. Another IBSS student intern team working with Green Light-Year partner Voibook, became just one of 6 to reach the World Bank Group Youth Summit's 2022 Pitch Competition global finals out of 1023 entries from 140 countries with an app designed to better integrate deaf users into their communities . This achievement has broken the record of China's undergraduate student's record at this youth event since its inception in 2013. GLY coached a sustainable cat food team called Catbell team, led by a student from Environmental Science and a student from IBSS, and other students from other department, to win the champion of Human Health track under the UNEP International Student Competition for Environment and Sustainable Development on 5 June 2022 (the World Environment Day). The team won a bonus of 10,000 yuan in total. The IBSS Sustainable Future Talents student group were invited to share their low carbon stories together with GLY's youth teams at the sub-session of the first Global Youth Climate Week one week before COP27 online, which attracted 11k+ viewers from around the world. Two IBSS alumni volunteers also supported Green Light-Year during the COP26 conference, and at the same time created a vlog of their experience at the conference for other students to learn from.

Guest lectures, ESD Events and Awareness: Green Light-Year CEO Helen Ni and other representatives from the NGO provide frequent talks and mentorship at IBSS sustainability events. These have included standalone events on sustainability and contributions to larger sustainability events and initiatives such as Climathon, International Women’s Day and the school’s AMBA-BGA Best CSR & Sustainability Initiative 2022 award-winning "15 Ways in 15 Weeks".

Benefits of this partnership to the institution as a PRME Champion:

The partnership with Green Light-Year provides the following benefits to IBSS as a PRME Champion:

  • Access to the NGO’s extensive international network of individuals and organisations dedicated to achieving a sustainable impact and developing more sustainability-focused education opportunities. With this network has come access to a wide range of external expertise in this area that has strongly complimented IBSS’s internal capabilities and supported the development of in-house expertise.

  • Greater opportunities for student learning and awareness, through student projects and internships hosted by Green Light-Year, as well as IBSS-led knowledge sharing activities this partner regularly contributes to.

  • Partnership on thought leadership in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), in addition to raising awareness for ESD through co-organised events and student projects.

  • Positive societal impact through student and staff engagement in partner projects that go on to advise corporate strategy, entrepreneurial venture development and government policy.

Benefits of this partnership to the partner institution(s):

Our partnership provides financial support as well as interns and research project participants. In addition, Green Light-Year has received much positive media attention from the partnership.

Spillover effects/cross pollination/impact of this partnership:

This partnership started with a single sponsored student project but has grown significantly in scale and scope over time.

Impact on Student Career Prospects: On average 30-50 IBSS students interact with Green Light-Year through internships and CEAP projects annually. Students that join Green Light-Year programmes frequently comment on the impact IBSS and Green Light-Year have had on their career aspirations, with many choosing to pivot towards more sustainability-focused careers.

Publications: One CEAP project resulted in one of the first books published in China on Science-Based Targets (SBTi) by China Environment Press Group , with this containing research conducted by IBSS students. A second book is planned based on the CEAP internship 2022 which produced a report on digital inclusion by Chinese ICTs based on methodology from the World Benchmarking Alliance - a partner organisation of both Green Light-Year and IBSS.

Business Impact: The first CSR bilingual reports produced by student CEAP consulting workshops in summer of 2019, a Chinese sustainable bamboo product company started by a disabled man were able to have real CSR stories in English to gain EU clients during the Guangzhou International Trade Fair in Sep 2019.

Impact of IBSS/GLY events: IBSS and Green Light-Year events, such as the Carbon Literacy Action Day launch event under the banner of RCE Suzhou in Nov 2022, have educated hundreds of students, academics, professionals and government representatives on topics related to education for sustainable development. Sustainable Future Talents from IBSS, a student society dedicated to SDG practice, was invited to introduce their initiative of ""15 ways in 15 weeks"" at COP15 Yangtze Delta Ecological Civilization Education Forum in Shanghai, co-organized by GLY, China National Center for Children, Education and Communications Center of Ministry of Ecology and Environment in Sep 2021. This event reached even more universities in the region and communities through live podcasting.

Impact on Government and Society:CEAP project work on Suzhou's unicorn and gazelle companies had positive effect on local government policy, supporting a large number of companies in applying to the UN procurement system after the survey done by 15 IBSS students trained by GLY. The report was adopted by SIP Enterprise Service Center and the Deputy Director of the Center, Ms. Wu Xiaoqing did a visit to IBSS to discuss the research report and later designed a workshop inviting targeted companies in SIP to join the training by GLY UN experts in May 2021. About 70 entrepreneurs were trained and about 10 companies started the business exploring with UN after the training.

In 2021, GLY trained 16 IBSS students under CEAP project on Suzhou's 471 unicorn and gazelle companies' awareness and willingness of joining Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi). The results showed only 9 companies knew about carbon management and are practising certain carbon management standards due to their MNC clients' requirement. This report has been included in a soon-to-be-published SBTi book sponsored by IBSS and has been quoted by several carbon management experts in China.

Lessons learned from the partnership:

  • Start partnerships small and manageable, then grow alongside your partners.

  • Maintain regular contact with our partner to determine possible collaboration opportunities

  • External partners and their expert networks are invaluable resources for business schools to leverage in driving internal impact across teaching, research and service.

Duration of partnership:

This partnership was established in 2019 and it is ongoing.

Communications about this partnership:

Examples of impact from this partnership:


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