Sustainable institutions are successful institutions in the longer-term. They are best placed to be financially and operationally resilient, achieve better outcomes for students, provide greater societal impact and deliver world-leading research and innovation. To help your institution reap these benefits, you as a sustainability leader should work to:
• align sustainability with strategic priorities and develop business cases that clearly articulate the institutional benefits associated with your ideas;
• influence senior leaders so as, over time, to embed sustainability thinking and practice at the very top of your organisation.
Your business case should explain what your idea is and why it should be supported, based on its expected benefits. Start by considering whether and how your idea creates value and mitigates risks for the institution (e.g. by reducing costs, improving reputations, meeting regulation, generating income opportunities, etc.) in the context of strategic priorities. Strategic priorities for universities and colleges tend to fall into four overarching categories:
You should then work to fully understand the risks, opportunities, challenges and benefits (financial and non-financial) of your idea and build evidence to support your claims. This process will involve a significant amount of desk-based research and, in all likelihood, wide-ranging discussions with colleagues and stakeholders. The resulting business case document should contain the following key elements:
Once you have mastered the art of business case development, you should start looking at how you can influence senior leaders to embed sustainability thinking and practice into your organisation’s vision, mission and values.
This is often a long and involved process, which takes time and perseverance (alongside the development of successive business cases needed to secure resources for new and bigger initiatives).
There are lots of resources referenced in this Guide that will help you to manage this process of change in your organisation, but the following factors are a great starting point: