Our Planet

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Our planet

As we make improvements to our own environmental performance, with renewed ambitions to achieve carbon zero and reduce the materials we use, we recognise that one of the areas where we have both the capability and responsibility to make a difference in driving global change is through education and scholarship. This year we published our first communication on progress under the UN Global Compact that serves as a guiding framework for supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Responsibility to the planet

We recognise that our responsibility towards the planet begins with embedding responsible environmental stewardship across our global operations. We have an internal governance board focused on the environment and have developed a strong group that is operationally focused on achieving our ambitions.

As Catie Sheret, General Counsel, says: “We’re being thoughtfully ambitious on sustainability. By leveraging our place in the University, we can do some great things and the rigour that flows through our approach reflects that and is paramount. That is hugely reassuring.”

“Getting sign-off on sustainability initiatives and activities in this organisation can be challenging because we aren’t prepared to do things or say we will do things unless we know it aligns with our mission and we have a good sense of how we’re going to do it.”

We achieved a Platinum Green Impact award for our UK operations in recognition of our sustainability practices as well as a Silver award for Cape Town and a Bronze one for Madrid teams. Three colleagues also won special awards. Green Impact is a United Nations award-winning programme.

“Sustainability links to every part of our mission. It encourages us to drive innovation, mitigate risk, attract and retain talent, build trust, and ultimately grow as we pursue our mission.”


Catie Sheret, General Counsel

Adopting the UN Global Compact

The framework on which we hang our sustainability goals is the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest sustainability initiative. It aligns our sustainability work with UN Sustainable Development Goals and provides an annual opportunity to state our progress in key areas around environment as well as human rights, labour and anti-corruption. We published our first communication on progress as a joint organisation in April 2022.

Integral to this commitment is our implementation of systems and controls to ensure modern slavery or human trafficking, including child trafficking, do not take place anywhere within our organisation or in any of our supply chains. Our approach is available on our website.

Environmental performance

A key project this year has been to develop a tool to gather and analyse the data needed to build an accurate baseline picture of environmental performance, right across global operations and supply chains. We are also building an integrated environmental management system that will give us the ability to measure and improve our environmental impact, track best practice and demonstrate progress against international frameworks.

solar panels
Solar panels on the roofs of our offices in Cambridge reduce our emissions

Carbon zero targets

We continue our commitment to reaching carbon zero on all energy-related emissions by 2048. This year we set an interim target of a 72 percent reduction in energy related emissions by 2030. We aspire to achieving this target sooner. We have already reduced UK electricity, gas and fleet emissions by 15 percent. We have also set targets to reduce corporate travel emissions by 25 percent by 2030 through budgetary incentives and maintaining a hybrid working approach.

Changing materials

Alongside carbon, we have identified the need to reduce our use of paper, water use and contamination, and plastic.

We have begun a systematic switch to using only Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper across our products and services, achieving 60 percent FSC paper certification by July 2022. The same month, the systems underpinning the environmental performance of our UK operations received
ISO 14001 certification, the international best practice standard.

Across our international assessment operations, we have switched from recycled plastic packaging, reducing the plastic used on question paper packs by about 20 percent; removed CDs from use in internal assessment processes, and actively invested in research in technology to enable a wholesale switch from plastic to paper examination packaging.

moss planting
Our colleagues around the world use their volunteer days to support initiatives that tackle climate change

Climate education


A new leader in climate education

A key focus for us is driving change through education and scholarship. By making the latest research and thinking available to as wide a range of audiences as possible, and engaging learners, school leaders and communities in sustainability, we can help global communities to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development and lifestyles.

We have recognised the need to give strong leadership and organisation-wide focus to this area of climate education. Christine Özden, who has had a successful three and a half years as our Chief Executive, Cambridge International Assessment Education, is taking up a new role as Global Director, Climate Education, later in 2022. She will work with the Executive Board and with stakeholders inside and outside of Cambridge University Press & Assessment to develop a climate education strategy that will guide activities for teachers and learners in this crucial area.

“We’re planning how to green the curriculum because we know students really want it. They know that they’re going to have to deal with massive issues around climate change and they haven’t got the knowledge to do that yet.”


Christine Özden, Global Director, Climate Education

Greening the curriculum

Responding to student demand for knowledge about how they should deal with the challenges around climate change, we are developing a new Cambridge National qualification in Sustainability. Alongside the new GCSE in Natural History (page 20) our UK Education group is also looking across its portfolio and considering how to update qualifications so that they are as relevant as possible to the sustainability interests of today’s students.

Focus on educational impact

A natural focus area for Cambridge University Press & Assessment among the UN Sustainable Development Goals is quality education and educational impact.