You might have seen this logo floating around social media in the past weeks. It’s from the AFS Sustainability Challenge: a 3 week gamification to encourage AFSers around the world to be more sustainable through small and big actions in their everyday life. The Challenge is a volunteer driven initiative, endorsed by the AFS Board of Trustees and AFS International.


Staša Stojkov, AFS volunteer and member of the organising team, told EFILife that the ‘Sustainability Challenge is truly an international AFS grassroots initiative. It is organized by volunteers from all over the AFS community, with different skills in different time zones. A team of 11 people has worked on the design, outreach, translation, and many other things in the process of making the Challenge happen.’ The team partnered up with the Swiss startup We Act to create the platform and they have been crucial for solving different technical problems according to Staša.


As stated on the website of the Sustainability Challenge, the main objectives were the following:


  • Increasing the impact of AFS: Climate Change is thought to be one of the core drivers of conflict and injustice over the century. Sustainability is thus core to the AFS mission of helping create a more peaceful and just world.
  • Positioning AFS as a changemaker organization: Sustainability is a key element of global citizenship education which AFS strongly promotes among its participants and volunteers.
  • Using new technologies for learning: In this challenge, technology will work with us as an enabler: a tailor-made, gamified and modern approach can playfully create a basic understanding of sustainable behavior and connect the AFS community all over the world.
  • Measuring our impact: The environmental and social impact of the Challenge can be measured, being a starting point for similar broader efforts within AFS raise awareness about actions you can take in your daily life to live a more sustainable life.


In teams of 4-6, people could sign up and collect points for all their sustainable actions. Actions such as saving water by taking 5 minute showers, saving energy and increasing your health by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and recycling as well as consuming less meat and dairy products. It was also possible to suggest other actions or sign up for team actions of various kinds.


When asked how the challenge went Rahel Aschwanden, volunteer and member of the organising team, said ‘I think scrolling through the platform’s “newsfeed” makes me feel very happy about the outcome: AFSers from all over the world participating, lots and lots of actions taken. But also lots of teams coming together and doing things together like bike rides and lunches. Which I think in some cases didn’t happen before – in AFS offices or among volunteers. It’s often just AFS stuff, just business, right? So I think it’s a win-win for AFS and the environment.’



Of course the EFIL secretariat in Brussels took part in this challenge. Everyone in the office joined the team and for 3 weeks they encouraged each other to live more sustainably. Together they organised vegetarian lunches at the office and even went for a team bike ride one day. For them this was a fun alternative, it made them think and it created opportunities for fun team building. It does help that they are quite competitive.


The EFIL team, cunningly named EFILive, gathered 66.524 points which placed them 11th out of 127 teams worldwide. They are pretty happy with that. The whole secretariat already looks forward to taking part in the AFS Sustainability Challenge next year!