Sustainability is an ideal state where human activity does not degrade the environment, but maintains natural systems and resources for future generations.
Sustainable development is the process that moves us closer to sustainability.
Since the publication of the Stern Review by the Treasury (2006), which outlined the economic case for acting on climate change, the business case for sustainable development cannot have been clearer:
‘No-one can predict the consequences of climate change with complete certainty; but we now know enough to understand the risks. Mitigation - taking strong action to reduce emissions - must be viewed as an investment, a cost incurred now and in the coming few decades to avoid the risks of very severe consequences in the future. If these investments are made wisely, the costs will be manageable, and there will be a wide range of opportunities for growth and development along the way’.
For FE institutions as businesses, it makes sense to make the operations of buildings and estate more efficient, and to invest in carbon reduction. With the expectation that carbon emissions will be heavily taxed and capped and that energy prices will continue to rise in the future, it is important to start to take action sooner rather than later.
For FE institutions as educators, it makes sense to introduce sustainable development into the curriculum to provide learners with the knowledge, skills and values that are needed to mitigate the effects of climate change. Students in FE need to be aware of and understand issues around sustainability, which are already important in the workplace, but will increasingly be so in the future. Students with the skills and competences gained through education in sustainability will have increased employment prospects and greater potential for career progression. Additionally, colleges have an important role to play in supporting local businesses and the wider community in their journey towards a more sustainable way of living.
Understanding the “business case” for sustainability is vital to ensuring that programmes are sustainable in themselves. This will not only help to ensure projects are well supported from the senior team, but also make them more resilient if budgets are cut. Be prepared to express and demonstrate the benefits of initiatives with indicators such as cost savings, legal compliance, staff development, student involvement or positive marketing achieved. Being able to demonstrate achievements will also ensure it is possible to celebrate successes. Applying for awards is a great way to gain recognition and garner further support from colleagues, and in particular from senior leadership teams!
What makes sustainability particularly relevant for the Learning and Skills sector?
The new Sustainable Development Goals were agreed in September 2015 by the UN’s 193 Member States. The aim is to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. “The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.”
Education plays a big part in achieving these goals, and the FE sector is in a pivotal role to contribute, having contact and communications with so many learners.
The Sustainable Development Goals would be a great resource to focus a cross-organisational learning day on.
Click on the Sustainable Development Goals image to see what they all are.
A case study from Otley College, linking employability and sustainability to enhance educational outcomes for students and promote Education for Sustainability.
A case study from an LSIS funded project at Accrington and Rossendale College where they implemented their sustainable development strategy.
Between 2010 and 2013, LSIS has provided grants to support 63 projects which aim to develop, embed and disseminate effective approaches to sustainable development. Each of...
A case study from Sussex Downs College where an online learning tool was developed (SustainIT) to minimise carbon footprint.
A case study and materials from Stockton Riverside College from a project which aimed to engage learners in sustainable activities through developing an exciting Sustainability...
A case study based on an LSIS project from Blackpool and the Fylde College based on an LSIS project about Student Entitlement to Education for Sustainable Development.
A case study exploring how Bedford College built its capacity embed sustainability into all its functions, at all levels, by securing commitment and engagement from all senior...
LSIS project case study from North Warwickshire and Hinckley College of an interactive e-learning training tool, for promoting and embedding effective practice in sustainability.
A case study of New College Stamford stepping up in sustainability project.
This project focused on setting up Sustainability Champions who will take forward the sustainability agenda, engage staff and embed projects into specific curriculum areas
Gateway College’s LSIS funded project aimed to get teaching staff and young people involved with enterprise and sustainability in a fun and engaging way
A case study from South Thames College about a project that supported the engagement of the College with sustainability organisations within the local community to promote...
A case study from South Staffordshire College about their project which extended carbon reduction/energy saving activities across all campuses.
A case study from an LSIS funded project at City College Coventry where a low-cost, high-value video guide to learning for sustainability was produced.
A case study exploring how Cambridge Regional College developed and embedded learning material relating to sustainability within Academies.
This project aimed to measure the electricity consumption in 5 student residential hostels, using the results to raise awareness that individual actions can impact energy usage
Between 2010 and 2013, LSIS provided grants to support 63 projects which aim to embed effective approaches to sustainable development. This is a case study from Lewisham College.
Between 2010 and 2013, LSIS provided grants to support 63 projects which aim to embed effective approaches to sustainable development. This is a case study from Leicester College.
Job Description for Wigan & Leigh College's Health, Safety and Sustainability Advisor
A job description and person specification for Dumfries and Galloway College's Research & Development Technician