A Guide for Members of Governing Bodies

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Sustainability: Key to Long-term Institutional Success

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Sustainability is key to institutional success over the long-term.

As the business sector has shown, sustainability provides exciting opportunities for value creation and risk mitigation.

These opportunities are becoming increasingly apparent to higher education institutions, as universities look for ways to increase financial resilience in a changing global market and policy landscape.

Now, more than ever, with adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (6), universities that embrace sustainability can reap the benefits of balancing their financial health with wider social and environmental interests.

Students, staff and local communities are looking to universities to behave in a socially responsible and sustainable manner.

Many universities already play a significant positive role through their governance, research, teaching and learning, campus management and use, business and investment, and their impact on staff, students and local community.

This role also extends to the development of adaptable students who are entering a world characterised by rapid change and uncertainty that will likely be an enduring feature of their professional and personal lives.

The aim of this Guide is to highlight the institutional benefits available through making sustainability a ‘top team, top table issue’, and one that complements and enriches current agendas.

The Guide is designed to provoke discussion and reflection on the opportunities associated with embedding sustainability at a strategic level in your institution. In the interests of brevity, the Guide does not describe all the various means of how to seize these opportunities or all the reasons why it is imperative to the success of your institution. 

Rather the most compelling arguments are included, with more detailed information and support available from EAUC. For example, EAUC’s SDG Accord (7) is a vehicle for global sectoral commitment to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, while EAUC’s Sustainability Leadership Scorecard (8) is a tool universities can use to measure and report on their sustainability performance.

This Guide has been developed by EAUC and the University of Edinburgh, with support from the Committee of University Chairs (CUC), Universities UK and Advance HE, and expert guidance from a crosssector Advisory Group of University Chairs and Vice-Chancellors together with EAUC Board members and expert advisors. 

(6) UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals

(7) SDG Accord: www.sdgaccord.org

(8) EAUC Sustainability Leadership Scorecard: www.eauc.org.uk/sustainability_leadership_ scorecard 

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