Since 1993, Second Nature has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators at hundreds of colleges and universities to help make the principles of sustainability fundamental to every aspect of higher education. In 2006, 12 visionary college and university presidents initiated the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), motivated by their conviction that higher education had the capacity and responsibility to lead on climate. These founding signatories worked with Second Nature, ecoAmerica, and AASHE to develop the Commitment.

Over time, the number of signatories grew, making higher education the only sector in the United States with a critical mass committed both to the scientifically necessary goal of climate neutrality and to preparing students to develop the solutions needed for a just, healthy, equitable, and sustainable society. 

Second Nature has built on the foundation of the ACUPCC, forming the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments: the Carbon Commitment (focused on reducing greenhouse emissions), a Resilience Commitment (focused on climate adaptation and building community capacity), and a Climate Commitment, which integrates both. Climate Leadership Network signatories have signed at least one of the Commitments.

The role of higher education in addressing inequities and the climate crisis continues to grow, and engagement continues to deepen. Today, Second Nature remains committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education by mobilizing a diverse array of higher education institutions to act on bold climate commitments, scale campus climate initiatives, and create innovative solutions.


Early 2007
The founding signatories invited their peers across the nation to join this historic endeavor.

Late 2007
By September 15, 2007, 336 institutions had joined the initiative as charter signatories.

Early 2008
By Earth Day 2008, the ACUPCC was a national initiative with signatories in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Second Nature became the lead supporting organization for the ACUPCC with additional support from AASHE.

Second Nature initiated the annual Climate Leadership Awards, recognizing ACUPCC institutions for their innovation