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IU’s fitness challenge: Circumnavigating the globe for climate action

Autor: Sarah Hofer

Dr. Sven Schütt, CEO at IU International University of Applied Sciences

April 9, 2024 Ι The IU International University of Applied Sciences’ fitness challenge once again adopted the motto “I&U Around the World – together around the world, for the world” this year. For the third consecutive year, IU designated March as fitness month with the goal of circling the world as many times as possible for a good cause.

The employees of Germany’s largest university achieved a total of 10.5 circumnavigations of the globe, surpassing their result from the previous year. Over 120 IU teams participated in sporting and sustainable activities, tracking their kilometers in an app and collectively covering 423,364 kilometers. For each trip around the world, IU’s parent company, the IU Group, donated 1,000 trees in collaboration with the “Grow my Tree” aid project by Impact Heroes, amounting to 10,500 trees.

Planting trees for climate action and community empowerment

“With sport and sustainable behaviour, we not only shape our bodies, but also the world around us. A healthy, intact environment and society are the benchmark for our behaviour, our teaching and our research. We are very proud that so many colleagues have once again taken part in our campaign and become real ‘Impact Heroes’,” says Alex Čaičics, Head of Sustainability at IU.

The 10,500 trees will be planted in the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania. They have a carbon sequestration potential of around 231 tonnes of CO2 per year and support the restoration of biodiversity over an area of around 45,000 square metres. The number of trees is equivalent to around 105 working days for the people in the region and enables them to learn more about sustainable development. The work in tree nurseries and in planting, caring for and monitoring trees creates sustainable income opportunities that benefit women in particular. At the same time, the incentives for illegal deforestation are combated through education and financial empowerment.

The tree projects supported by Impact Hero help combat climate change, create habitats for animals, ensure healthy soils and restore water cycles, while strengthening local communities through income and education opportunities. Impact Hero works with project partners in over 20 countries in the Global South, where the impact is greatest. For IU, Impact Hero is the ideal partner for its employee campaign, as it is increasingly committed to sustainable development on an economic, social and ecological level and is guided by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

Promoting sustainable living: Making every step count towards a greener future

Teams from all IU locations around the world came together to take part in the challenge. Using the fitness app “TeamFit”, the teams recorded their activities, which were converted into kilometres. Any form of movement counted, such as walking, home workouts, house cleaning, mindfulness and breathing exercises and much more. A special focus this year was on sustainable activities. For example, anyone who swapped their car for a train or bike, drank tap water instead of bottled water, took a vegetarian or vegan day or shortened their shower time collected additional kilometres in a simple and sustainable way. Around ten per cent of all kilometres achieved were based on sustainable activities, which puts it in second place compared to all other activities. Only steps taken accounted for an even greater proportion of the overall result, with 25 per cent. In addition, all participants received many helpful tips for a more sustainable lifestyle during the challenge period as well as background information on IU’s many other ESG initiatives.

“Sustainability and social responsibility start within the company itself. Through campaigns like this, we try to raise awareness within IU and support our employees to grow personally and make a positive contribution together – for our students and our environment,” says Čaičics.

Dijana Galijasevic, CEO & Founder of Impact Hero, personally congratulated the impressive result: “IU is also helping to fulfil Impact Hero’s mission of turning everyday actions into truly tangible contributions to our global cause and creating greater awareness. Together we are not just planting trees, we are planting hope, growth and opportunities for countless lives. So, we are all true impact heroes.”

Students at IU International University of Applied Sciences have the opportunity to voluntarily do without printed study scripts. In this way, they actively reduce paper, protect the environment and even give something back to nature, as IU plants more trees in return. So far, more than 300,000 scripts have been saved and over 33,000 trees have been planted (cooperation partner until 2023 was treedom, since 2023 it is Impact Hero).

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