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.
New College Stamford (NCS) recently established an Environmental and Sustainability strategy with high emphasis placed on social responsibility.
Confronted with the rising cost – both financial &environmental – of conventional fuel, Blackpool & The Fylde College has driven its sustainable transport using waste...
Case studies from the winner and highly commended for the Colleges category from the 06/07 Green Gown Awards
The Carbon Management Plan commits the College to a target of reducing CO2 by 25% by 2015 & underpins potential financial savings to the institution of £58553 per year by...
This is a job description and person specification for the role of Environmental and Sustainability Manager at Cambridge Regional College, created in October 2010.
This is a job description and person specification for the role of Environmental and Sustainability Manager at Aberdeen College, created in April 2010.
Here are template documents from Wiltshire College, to support to 2012 Annual Conference workshop, "The road to excellent operations is paved with internal environmental...
Exploration session from EAUC 2011 Conference of the Love Food, Haste Waste campaign and how it works in communities and has engaged the FHE sector
A link to the Elmwood Campus page on the SRUC website, this is a great example of the working EMS in the sector.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight see why Loughborough College has been praised for ‘ticking every possible good agenda'.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight, see how South Lanarkshire College adopted a philosophy to do things differently with a strong focus on sustainable practices.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight, see how Sheffield College is one of the city's greenest major developments to date.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight, see how Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College is implementing sustainability into their buildings through student engagement.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight, see Wigan & Leigh College's focus on waste, ESD, energy and travel.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight, see how Warwickshire College have holistically embedded sustainability throughout the college.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight, see how Walsall Adult and Community College are putting to policy into practice an embedding sustainability.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight see Leicester College's strategic commitment to sustainable development.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight, see how Cambridge Regional College are leading the way in environmental sustainability achieving a top environmental accreditation.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight, see how City College Plymouth has made a difference to its approach to Sustainability over the last 10 years.
In this EAUC Member Spotlight, see how Coleg Gwent has made a pledge to embed sustainable development as a core principle of the college.