United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

The GREEN Program: International Education for Sustainable Development

    Since 2009, The GREEN Program (TGP) serves to bridge the gap between traditional textbook learning and career development for positive change through our short-term, accredited, experiential education programs abroad for sustainable development. With the launch of the SDGs, we are fusing the UN’s 17 Global Goals framework with The GREEN Program’s model to continue exposing students to sustainability challenges and initiatives around the world. We aim to continue reshaping higher education curricula for students across 470 universities and 70 countries around the world by embedding The GREEN Program’s model within existing university STEAM degree tracks.
    Expected Impact

    The GREEN Program unlocks doors for students to gain exclusive education, industry access, and authentic bucket-list experiences around the world. We exist to use the world as our classroom in order to give meaning and purpose to education, adventure, and life. Our short-term, 8 to 10 day programs attracts students who are curious about the world and seek opportunities to adventure, break out of their comfort zone, and stand out among their peers as global citizens. Whatever their ambition might be, our participants have one underlying mission in common: they have consciously chosen to pursue a future of possibilities and are determined to be part of the solutions toward a better world.Regardless of the destination, the one-of-a-kind GREEN Program educational model remains constant. At its core is a reverence for experiential education and the knowledge that allowing students to get up close and personal with their studies, interests, and passions through direct industry exposure does something transformative. Our educational model is so successful we are proud to say that 98 percent of our Alumni say that The GREEN Program has accelerated their professional endeavors.Each of our current programs touch upon numerous SDGs including renewable energy in Iceland, water resource-management in Peru, and sustainable design and urban regeneration in Philadelphia, USA. We partner with a university in each of these destinations to develop special curricula for GREEN students. In addition to taking courses, students participate in various educational site visits and gain exclusive access into renewable energy facilities to bring what they learn in the classroom to life. Throughout their time with us, students work with their peers on the program - other student leaders from around the world - develop a Capstone Project which aims to solve or address a sustainability challenge around the world.GREEN plans to work towards the SDGs we’ve committed to by teaching and engaging the world’s next generation of leaders to be involved in the solutions. Some of the targets our organization directly contributes to through our international work and partnerships. On the other hand, others involve cooperation with our students on the program through community development initiatives and Capstone Projects. We look forward to expanding our program portfolio to address more of the SDGs in the future while engaging the world’s youth in the accomplishment of the goals.


    On The GREEN Program, students complete entrepreneurial Capstone Projects where they address real-world sustainable development problems by creating ideas for new businesses and organizations that implement solutions. While developing these entrepreneurial solutions, GREEN teaches students the concept of capacity building by ensuring students focus on how their business will impact local communities and how they can engage local stakeholders to make solutions more sustainable. Students actively practice capacity building by drawing upon the advice, input, and teachings of local community members they have met from our program including our native program staff, industry professionals, local professors, and community members. We then invite these local stakeholders to the Capstone Project presentations so that they may provide valuable insight and feedback to our students while learning and gaining inspiration from the solutions and businesses that are pitched. Technology transfer is an important element of each GREEN program that happens in numerous ways. Students on our programs gain access into renewable energy facilities and sustainability sites in each destination that we visit. These experiences expose them to technologies and infrastructures from around the world. Using these visits as a springboard, students hypothesize how to improve the technology or apply it to another area of the world, often targeting developing countries, through the Capstone Projects. When students develop a Capstone Project focused on the program destination, our community partners have the opportunity to adopt our students’ innovative solutions post-program. As an example, our students worked with a local school in Cusco to build a greenhouse that was inspired by the Capstone Project of a previous GREEN student. We are now speaking with the government of Peru about expanding these types of projects at schools across the country. Following The GREEN Program, students are invited to join a network of other GREEN Alumni from around the world. Technology transfer and knowledge sharing regularly occurs here when students share their Capstone Projects, collaborate on new and existing initiatives, and share trends and new research in the industries where they work and study. GREEN also aspires to create a library of Capstone Projects that can be accessed globally for further inspiration and sustainable development.


    The GREEN Program currently operates over the spread of three continents. The GREEN Program’s core team and company headquarters are located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our team of five works out of Pipeline Philly, a co-working space located in Center City, Philadelphia. As one of the founding members of the space, The GREEN Program is a part of this ever-growing community now home to more than 200 companies and organizations. Within Philadelphia, we are partnered and affiliated with numerous companies and universities of the Philadelphia Tri-State area. Some of these organizations include: Philadelphia University, Drexel University, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, Sustainability Nexus, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Sustainable Philadelphia Alliance of Regional Campuses (SPARC), National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Philadelphia’s Sustainable Business Network (SBN), and have even partnered with the city’s Mayor’s Office of Sustainability for past endeavors. Beyond Philadelphia, The GREEN Program team works alongside numerous indigenous educational institutions and organizations specific to our program locations. For example, these domestic and international partners include: International Institute of Education’s (IIE) Generation Study Abroad, World Bank Group’s Connect4Climate, Reykjavik University’s Iceland School of Energy, South Iceland Adventure, Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL), Path Travel, Abroad101, and more.Of course, our organization’s governance doesn’t stop here. Our community would not be what it is today without our extended GREEN Family – The GREEN Program Alumni. Having hosted participants from more than 70 countries and 400 universities worldwide, The GREEN Program is elated to welcome more than 3,000 Alumni to our extended community of sustainability leaders. With interdisciplinary approach, our participants represent an immensely eclectic group of majors and backgrounds including engineering (mechanical, civil, environmental, industrial, chemical, biological, electrical, and computer), natural sciences, environmental sciences, policy & business, journalism & communications, as well as art, education, and more. In fact, we run our GREEN Ambassador Program, a group of our most elite Alumni who are driven to not only stay connected with The GREEN Program network, but are also helping us propel toward our bigger picture mission of global citizenship and a sustainable future.

    The GREEN Program, Reykjavik University, South Iceland Adventure, Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, Path Travel Peru, Philadelphia University, Awfully Nice Tours, Philadelphia Tour Hub, UnTours Foundation, Institute of International Education Generation Study Abroad, SDSN Youth, The World Bank Connect4Climate, Sustainable Business Network, UnTours Foundation, Climate Action Network for International Educators (CANIE)

    Goal 4

    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

    Goal 4


    By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes


    Proportion of children and young people (a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex


    Completion rate (primary education, lower secondary education, upper secondary education)


    By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education


    Proportion of children aged 24–59 months who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being, by sex


    Participation rate in organized learning (one year before the official primary entry age), by sex


    By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university


    Participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months, by sex


    By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship


    Proportion of youth and adults with information and communications technology (ICT) skills, by type of skill


    By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations

    Parity indices (female/male, rural/urban, bottom/top wealth quintile and others such as disability status, indigenous peoples and conflict-affected, as data become available) for all education indicators on this list that can be disaggregated


    By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy


    Proportion of population in a given age group achieving at least a fixed level of proficiency in functional (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills, by sex


    By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development


    Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education and (d) student assessment


    Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all


    Proportion of schools offering basic services, by type of service


    By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries

    Volume of official development assistance flows for scholarships by sector and type of study


    By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States


    Proportion of teachers with the minimum required qualifications, by education level

    Goal 16

    Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

    Goal 16


    Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere

    Number of victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 population, by sex and age
    Conflict-related deaths per 100,000 population, by sex, age and cause

    Proportion of population subjected to (a) physical violence, (b) psychological violence and (c) sexual violence in the previous 12 months


    Proportion of population that feel safe walking alone around the area they live after dark


    End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children


    Proportion of children aged 1–17 years who experienced any physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers in the past month

    Number of victims of human trafficking per 100,000 population, by sex, age and form of exploitation

    Proportion of young women and men aged 18–29 years who experienced sexual violence by age 18


    Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all

    Proportion of victims of violence in the previous 12 months who reported their victimization to competent authorities or other officially recognized conflict resolution mechanisms
    Unsentenced detainees as a proportion of overall prison population

    Proportion of the population who have experienced a dispute in the past two years and who accessed a formal or informal dispute resolution mechanism, by type of mechanism


    By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime

    Total value of inward and outward illicit financial flows (in current United States dollars)
    Proportion of seized, found or surrendered arms whose illicit origin or context has been traced or established by a competent authority in line with international instruments


    Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms

    Proportion of persons who had at least one contact with a public official and who paid a bribe to a public official, or were asked for a bribe by those public officials, during the previous 12 months
    Proportion of businesses that had at least one contact with a public official and that paid a bribe to a public official, or were asked for a bribe by those public officials during the previous 12 months


    Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels

    Primary government expenditures as a proportion of original approved budget, by sector (or by budget codes or similar)

    Proportion of population satisfied with their last experience of public services


    Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels


    Proportions of positions in national and local institutions, including (a) the legislatures; (b) the public service; and (c) the judiciary, compared to national distributions, by sex, age, persons with disabilities and population groups

    Proportion of population who believe decision-making is inclusive and responsive, by sex, age, disability and population group


    Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance


    Proportion of members and voting rights of developing countries in international organizations


    By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration

    Proportion of children under 5 years of age whose births have been registered with a civil authority, by age


    Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements

    Number of verified cases of killing, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of journalists, associated media personnel, trade unionists and human rights advocates in the previous 12 months
    Number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information


    Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime

    Existence of independent national human rights institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles


    Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development

    Proportion of population reporting having personally felt discriminated against or harassed in the previous 12 months on the basis of a ground of discrimination prohibited under international human rights law

    Goal 17

    Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

    Goal 17


    Strengthen domestic resource mobilization, including through international support to developing countries, to improve domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection

    Total government revenue as a proportion of GDP, by source
    Proportion of domestic budget funded by domestic taxes


    Developed countries to implement fully their official development assistance commitments, including the commitment by many developed countries to achieve the target of 0.7 per cent of ODA/GNI to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of ODA/GNI to least developed countries; ODA providers are encouraged to consider setting a target to provide at least 0.20 per cent of ODA/GNI to least developed countries

    Net official development assistance, total and to least developed countries, as a proportion of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee donors’ gross national income (GNI)


    Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources


    Additional financial resources mobilized for developing countries from multiple sources 

    Volume of remittances (in United States dollars) as a proportion of total GDP


    Assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability through coordinated policies aimed at fostering debt financing, debt relief and debt restructuring, as appropriate, and address the external debt of highly indebted poor countries to reduce debt distress

    Debt service as a proportion of exports of goods and services


    Adopt and implement investment promotion regimes for least developed countries


    Number of countries that adopt and implement investment promotion regimes for developing countries, including the least developed countries


    Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism


     Fixed Internet broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by speed


    Promote the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed


    Total amount of funding for developing countries to promote the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies


    Fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology

    Proportion of individuals using the Internet


    Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the Sustainable Development Goals, including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation


    Dollar value of financial and technical assistance (including through North-South, South‑South and triangular cooperation) committed to developing countries


    Promote a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization, including through the conclusion of negotiations under its Doha Development Agenda

    Worldwide weighted tariff-average


    Significantly increase the exports of developing countries, in particular with a view to doubling the least developed countries’ share of global exports by 2020


    Developing countries’ and least developed countries’ share of global exports


    Realize timely implementation of duty-free and quota-free market access on a lasting basis for all least developed countries, consistent with World Trade Organization decisions, including by ensuring that preferential rules of origin applicable to imports from least developed countries are transparent and simple, and contribute to facilitating market access


    Weighted average tariffs faced by developing countries, least developed countries and small island developing States


    Enhance global macroeconomic stability, including through policy coordination and policy coherence

    Macroeconomic Dashboard


    Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development

    Number of countries with mechanisms in place to enhance policy coherence of sustainable development


    Respect each country’s policy space and leadership to establish and implement policies for poverty eradication and sustainable development 

    Extent of use of country-owned results frameworks and planning tools by providers of development cooperation


    Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries


    Number of countries reporting progress in multi-stakeholder development effectiveness monitoring frameworks that support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals


    Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships 


    Amount in United States dollars committed to public-private partnerships for infrastructure


    By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts


    Statistical capacity indicator for Sustainable Development Goal monitoring

    Number of countries that have national statistical legislation that complies with the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics

    Number of countries with a national statistical plan that is fully funded and under implementation, by source of funding


    By 2030, build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement gross domestic product, and support statistical capacity-building in developing countries

    Dollar value of all resources made available to strengthen statistical capacity in developing countries

    Proportion of countries that (a) have conducted at least one population and housing census in the last 10 years; and (b) have achieved 100 per cent birth registration and 80 per cent death registration

    Name Description
    Increase scholarship opportunities to developing countries, small island nation states, and African countries especially for engineering, technical and scientific programs
    Increase global partnerships for program development as well as SDGs support and awareness
    Increase ethnic diversity on our programs
    Expand programs into 10 destinations
    Announce New Master's Degree: M.S. in International Sustainable Development & Climate Change
    Financing (in USD)
    Other, please specify
    Commitment partners across platforms such as The World Bank Connect4Climate, Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, university networks, Association of the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
    Staff / Technical expertise
    Building partnership as a fiscal sponsor to tap into corporate scholarship opportunities for low income, high potential students (specifically within developing nations, small island nations, African countries)
    Financing (in USD)
    A annual minimum of $1,000,000 invested in the local economies of TGP courses abroad
    Financing (in USD)
    An annual minimum of $1,000,000 invested in the local economies of TGP courses abroad
    Financing (in USD)
    $10,000,000 in total funding to design, operate, and sustain global experiences and long-term impact.
    Staff / Technical expertise
    Uppsala University Research Study: Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Study Investigates the Impacts of Experiential Education Abroad: https://www.thegreenprogram.com/blog/esdtgpstudy
    Title Progress Status Submitted
    Partnership Progress 2021-03-10 On track 10 March, 2021
    Partnership Progress 2020-11-24 On track 24 November, 2020
    Partnership Progress 2019-09-15 On track 15 September, 2019
    The GREEN Program: International Education for Sustainable Development
    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 January 2009 (start date)
    01 January 2030 (date of completion)
    The GREEN Program
    Geographical coverage
    Philadelphia, PA, USA
    More information
    United States of America
    United States of America
    Contact Information

    Melissa Lee, CoFounder, CEO