Through our locations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, we engage with policy processes, development action and business practice throughout the world. Our approach as an organization is highly collaborative, and stakeholder involvement is at the heart of our efforts to strengthen institutions and equip partners for the long term.

Our environmental impact

We strive to minimize our environmental footprint while accomplishing our work. We monitor, report and act to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce waste, and keep overall resource use as low as possible.

Some travel is unavoidable to effectively fulfil our mission, carry out data-gathering field research, and build capacity among partners in developing countries.

Travel emissions

The first step in reducing carbon emissions is to measure and publicly report those emissions.

Since 2015 we have monitored our emissions from air travel across all our locations. In 2015, SEI Foundation flight emissions totalled 480 tonnes, while in 2016 it was 517 tonnes. Over the same period, staff numbers grew about 5%, from 117 to 123.

The SEI Foundation includes our headquarters in Stockholm, SEI Oxford, SEI Asia, SEI Africa and, since 2018, SEI Latin America. The table below shows SEI Foundation CO2 emissions from 2015 to 2018.

Table: SEI Foundation CO2 emissions from air travel
Year Emissions (tonnes CO2e) Distance (km) Emissions (tonnes CO2e) per full-time employee
2015 480* 3.2 million 5.76
2016 517 3.4 million 4.92
2017 561 3.7 million 4.96
2018 620 4.1 million 4.39

* Recalculated since our 2015 annual report

In 2018, SEI flights from our headquarters and all seven centres totalled 7.3 million kilometres, with the release of around 1,100 tonnes CO2e.

In 2019 we have adopted a progressive new environmental policy with mandatory actions for all centres to monitor their air travel emissions and develop environmental action plans.

We are also:

  • reducing our carbon emissions from travel by assessing the need for travel and switching to more sustainable modes of transport
  • continuing to invest in virtual meeting technology and state-of-the-art software for remote collaboration, and
  • shifting meetings to virtual formats when possible.


Headquarters and centres develop and implement their own action plans according to needs, capabilities and contexts.

Actions range from large investments – like the design of our buildings to achieve accreditation for sustainability; and incorporating water and energy saving features, solar panels and rainwater harvesting – down to smaller individual actions such as the introduction of a (voluntary) self-tax on employees who bring plastic packaging into the office for lunch.

Below is a list of other highlights from across our locations.

  • At SEI Africa, pooled transport allows us to reduce the vehicle emissions associated with employee commuting.
  • Several of our offices hold tree planting days to offset travel emissions, improve employee well-being, and reconnect with nature.
  • We operate a reflective approach to travel by regularly reviewing our travel and learning from reduction efforts. We identify actions that lead to better work outcomes and reduced travel.
  • Our offices work to improve their sustainability across energy and water use, procurement, and waste and recycling.
  • Most of our offices use sustainable cleaning products.
  • Several offices have developed a list of preferred vendors based on sustainability practices.
  • We always ensure that vegetarian food is available at our events. Many of our offices do not offer meat at all.
  • We have excellent online conferencing facilities and have made significant investments in software to collaborate easily and efficiently across our network.
  • We have flexible working policies that allow for easier use of public transport options, and invest in facilities to encourage commuting by bike or foot.