Second Nature Strategic Plan 2020

Since its founding in 1993, Second Nature has played a critical role in mobilizing higher education to move the needle towards the goal of a sustainable society. We created and oversee the largest voluntary carbon neutrality commitment in any sector in the United States. Millions of students have passed through these schools and this history has placed Second Nature in a key leadership position working with higher education to advance sustainability.

We believe the 2020 Strategic Plan represents a new, catalytic phase of Second Nature’s development. Anchored in clarified mission and vision statements, this plan sets out five key objectives designed to build broader and deeper levels of sustainability impact both on and off campuses.

Why these five? The five objectives were structured to ensure that Second Nature and its programmatic offerings continue to be seen as the leading edge of what is possible within higher education. Three programmatic objectives are designed to complement one another, creating significant efficiencies for implementation. Two operational objectives improve critical support functions for the organization. The collective impact of the five objectives form a strong framework that will support our decision-making, ensure sustainable growth, and efficiently advance the mission of Second Nature for the next five years.


I. Strengthen Second Nature’s leadership network through enhancing, leveraging, and maturing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. In its eighth year, the ACUPCC, and its robust network of 680+ schools, needs ongoing refreshment and refinement in response to changing global contexts in order to maintain its catalytic character.

II. Diversify and integrate Second Nature’s core commitments with robust supporting activities. Climate action planning relies on both mitigation and adaptation for success. Designing and supporting complementary commitments of carbon neutrality and resilience allows for holistic climate leadership to be achieved.

III. Catalyze collaborative partnerships across institutions and sectors. Second Nature and its network of schools in higher education cannot move the global sustainability dial in isolation. We need shared strategic partnerships to develop creative, novel initiatives for advancing sustainability goals.

IV. Develop and implement strategic communications plan and integrated rebranding of Second Nature commitments. Currently, Second Nature communications are opportunistic and widely disparate across our distribution channels. Critical to our success is the ability to compellingly communicate shared and consistent messages through a variety of media to our target audiences.

V. Lead the creation of a cross-sector sustainability data and information exchange. Data supports informed decision-making and progress. Though significant amounts data are being collected by Second Nature, an open data exchange activated by priority climate and sustainability problems can serve as a solutions center for all stakeholders including those outside of our immediate network.


This 2020 plan is designed to get us closer to our vision of seeing higher education as a key catalyst for positive global change. This future is one that we shared with many in other sectors of society. We know that the collective action needed for significant social change requires leadership from higher education, and with help from partners we think this change can be significantly realized in this critical moment in history.

We hope this plan inspires you to help us in our journey forward, and offers areas for jointly working toward progress. We will continue to update and revise our strategy in response to successes and challenges we encounter over the next five years, and this dynamic process will hopefully lead to greater accomplishments than we can even imagine at this point.

Thanks for your ongoing and future support of Second Nature.

Read the full strategy document.