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Academic Travel Abroad (ATA)


Long before sustainability became a buzz word, Academic Travel Abroad (ATA) embraced the principles this term embodies (reduce, reuse, recycle, respect). Since our inception in 1950, we have believed in the power of education, the importance of cultural respect, the vitality of our planet’s diversity, and the invaluable exchange of ideas between human beings. These principles are reflected in everything we do, and every day, we strive to do more, do better, and make a difference. In signing the Glasgow Declaration in 2022, ATA is committing to continue our sustainable practices throughout our organization and operations to avoid compromising the needs of future generations and help build a better world. In creating enriching travel experiences and immersive life-changing study abroad opportunities, we showcase appreciation and respect for the different places and people of the world and highlight the need to protect and safeguard the future of the planet. All divisions of ATA’s business, across the globe, are expected to lay out their own actions and targets for the years ahead. Sustainability action is ingrained in all that we do. For instance, in the DC headquarters we offer public transit incentives, compost office food waste and purchase products with post-consumer recycled content. We seek to educate our staff, our partners, our travelers and our students and make a change through our programmatic offerings worldwide. We recognize that marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by the effects of irresponsible policies and climate change. Our sustainability goals and actions align with our Anti-Racist Action Plan. We seek justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) in all our sustainability initiatives. We are about to announce a road map for a 10-year sustainability plan. Part of the plan will be a more specific climate action plan that looks at how we can measure, decarbonize, regenerate, collaborate and finance our actions in accordance with the Glasgow Declaration. Starting in January 2022 we have begun to mitigate the impact of our carbon footprint by starting a decarbonization fund with contributions for each trip taken by ATA staff, traveler, or tour staff. Through this fund, ATA will invest a minimum of $10,000 in 2022 (and as much as $100,000 by 2032) in projects that reduce carbon emissions. In 2022 we have selected Cool Effect, a US nonprofit that supports the reduction of carbon emissions while advancing other UN Sustainable Development Goals. The size of this fund will grow as business resumes post-pandemic. Our sustainable goals will evolve over the next 10 years. We are starting out with these priorities: Reduce the carbon impact of travel. Action includes assessing which staff trips must happen in-person (rather than virtually), selecting “greener” flight options (e.g., direct flights/airlines using/investing in Sustainable Aviation Fuel), offering ATA staff hybrid work-from-home (WFH) options, contributing to ATA staff metro transit costs, building the decarbonization fund, and considering “greener” alternative transportation modes. Align our supply chains. We work with vendors who have sustainable practices and are seeking to reduce their carbon footprint; we respect cultural heritage and ethical labor practices when selecting vendors and we continue to purchase office materials with post-consumer recycled content. Reduce waste. Action includes restarting DC office composting, moving toward the elimination of single use plastic in all our operations, and continuing to reduce printed materials.