The Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development


The Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development

Since its foundation (1994), Umanotera is a non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) in the field of sustainable development in Slovenia. Umanotera has been working on climate change related activities since 2006 and carries out numerous awareness raising projects, campaigns and educational trainings in the field of climate change mitigation (sustainable food supply, tourism, finance, community projects, climate migration…). Since 2012, Umanotera has also coordinated the Slovenian NGO network for sustainable development Plan B.

Field of activity

Work team
7 employees


Good ecological practices

Umanotera has a global approach. Since 2009, the association has made an important transition by implementing an environmental management system (hereafter EMS) in different areas: electricity and heating, mobility, purchasing, waste, reporting and communication. The EMS is available in the practical guide for an eco-responsible office that Umanotera helped produce as part of a European project (2011-2013). The NGO has developed its own carbon footprint calculator to facilitate the monitoring of changes.

On the energy side, as a building tenant, Umanotera is limited in its actions. Its actions have included:

place the offices according to the way the light enters the building

only opening windows quickly and wide during the winter

not exceed 21 degrees in the office and to turn down the heaters when leaving the office

never use or carefully use air conditioning and encourage people to work at home during heat waves

buy computers that have been restored with electrical efficiency labels

regularly remove ice from the refrigerator.

On the purchasing side, the association’s actions are for example to:

 pool or rent equipment (e.g. printers)

 choose an eco-responsible caterer for public events that meets these seven principles: organic, local, seasonal, unprocessed, plant-based, no food waste and no packaging

 buy fair trade coffee, tea and sugar for the office and at events

 buy recycled and organic toilet paper

 purchase eco-labeled and socially responsible products

 select socially and environmentally responsible, non-material gifts

On the waste side, actions taken included:

donate paper to social enterprises which then transform it into cellulose for roof insulation

donate computers, monitors and other electrical and electronic equipment that are no longer in use to organizations that restore and donate them for social use

send at least two reminders (e-mails) to conference registrants, asking them to report their absence, to avoid food waste

On the digital side, the association’s actions included:

minimize the sending of emails

not to send too many large attachments if they are not necessary

use the cloud and clean it regularly

avoid sending less important emails, such as “OK” or “thank you

don’t use a visual digital signature when it’s not necessary

participate in Digital Cleanup Day.

What was the trigger?

Umanotera’s initial desire was not only to reduce its carbon footprint, but also to do what it says, test solutions/measures, and be more credible when speaking to other people, organizations, and businesses. Today, Umanotera is its best case study on how to do that.

Running the project

An environmental coordinator is responsible for the implementation of the environmental management system (EMS) but all employees are responsible for managing the changes. The time spent on the EMS by the environmental coordinator is approximately 25 hours per year. At certain stages of the process, the whole team meets in a workshop to discuss and decide on changes. There is also an annual team meeting to review the EMS.

Keys of success

  •  seek out more climate-friendly partners.
  • create a document containing a database of more sustainable services, products and food suppliers that is regularly updated and shared with other interested partners
  • specify who is the environmental contact person responsible for coordinating all activities.
  • use the “Plan Do Check Act” management method
  • calculate the carbon footprint per person and per office each year, and then analyze the reason for the changes observed in relation to the results. In 2020, the results (p. 34-36) are as follows: heating 49%, electricity 39%, mobility to work 8%, mobility to work 4%, paper almost non-existent (0.04%).
  • communicate and report to employees and members on the NGO’s environmental actions
  • present the carbon footprint to employees each year, so that they can better understand its purpose
  • use carbon offsetting when necessary
  • report on Umanotera’s ecological approach on the NGO’s website and in the annual report.
  • point out and highlight environmentally friendly practices at events (e.g., local and organic food, vegan meals).

Encountered barriers

The biggest challenge is to start the changes, as it takes some time to get the system in place, to assess the impact of its activities on the environment and climate, but the same is true for any system that the organization puts in place from scratch. It becomes much easier once the system is up and running. Another challenge is to find partners that implement environmental practices or processes when Umanotera is looking for accommodations or restaurants, for example.

Measures of change

Umanotera has data on its carbon footprint. It has decreased from 7.04 tons of CO2 equivalent in 2009 to 3.42 tons of CO2 equivalent in 2020 (0.73T CO2 equivalent per employee). In addition, Umanotera is benchmarking its carbon footprint against other similar organizations, and this has led to the conclusion that Umanotera’s footprint is lower.

Many of Umanotera’s day-to-day activities are designed to be sustainable, which helps to raise awareness among employees and partners about reducing the carbon footprint.

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