Global Communities works in 27 countries around the world, but our roots are deep in Montgomery County. As a global development and humanitarian assistance organization committed to working in partnership with communities worldwide to bring about sustainable change, we have seen first-hand the direct effects of our changing climate on the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable. As a result, an internal survey of staff members showed climate change was a top concern as far back as 2016.
In response, Senior Program Manager Mary Liz Mann, who was inspired at a climate justice march in Washington, DC, proposed the formation of a climate smart task force. Many staff at all levels of the organization responded favorably to her idea, and the Global Communities Green Team was born.
Early efforts included simple behavioral changes to make the organization more eco-friendly, including encouraging staff to save energy and reduce waste. At the same time, the Green Team also began actively connecting with others in the community. In 2018, Global Communities was introduced to the Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program.
As the realities of our changing climate started coming into starker focus, the Green Team worked to develop of a set of green values that aligned with Global Communities organizational values, which call on us to be:
In early 2019, the Green Team developed and submitted an application for Green Business certification that included initiatives such as elimination of single-use plastic from our workplace, composting of food scraps and many types of paper products, a green purchasing policy, and a 50 percent reduction in office paper usage by 2022.
In May 2019, we received our Green Business certification from Montgomery County, which proved to be a launching pad for additional and deeper sustainability efforts. These included:
On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Green Team continues to take action, even as the world around us has shifted. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Global Communities is actively working to respond in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world, using our deep experience from the Ebola crisis and other public health emergencies to adapt programs and slow the spread of the virus. In areas where the changing climate has already disrupted lives and livelihoods, the effects of the pandemic are even more deeply felt.
While the Silver Spring-based team works remotely to support ongoing operations, the Green Team continues to bring climate awareness to all levels of the organization. On Earth Day, staff around the world tuned in to an online presentation from Montgomery County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Adriana Hochberg and Senior Planning Specialist Doug Weisburger. The theme of their presentation aligned with the Earth Day 2020 theme: climate action.
Our work is just beginning. In the coming months, Global Communities will bring our new green initiative to our overseas offices. This rollout promises to be even more impactful, as Global Communities recently merged with Project Concern International, (PCI) a global development organization based in San Diego, California. Our combined organization delivers more impact and works with communities to deliver sustainable change to tens of millions of people in over 35 countries. Mitigation and adaptation to the effects of climate change among vulnerable communities will be a significant component of our work together, and our colleagues around the world are eager to participate in a green initiative that will positively impact their offices and their communities.
Global Communities has another organizational value: Genuine. This means our work is based on trust, respect and equity, and we hold ourselves accountable as we interact with the world around us. On Earth Day and every day, the Green Team is working to demonstrate that together, we can make workplace practices at every location more sustainable, the communities where we live and work more resilient, and the world a better place to live.
Article by David Guier, Senior Director at Global Communities