SFC includes Net Zero and Environmental Sustainability within latest Outcome Agreement Guidance

23rd May 2023

Scottish Funding Council (SFC) have published Outcome Agreement Guidance for 2023-24 for both the University and College sectors which contains a new section on Net Zero and Environmental Sustainability Response (page 6; Priority Area 5). The text is reproduced in full below.

Outcome Agreements set out what colleges and universities plan to deliver in return for their funding from SFC, and are developed for a three year period and updated annually with the support of an SFC Outcome Agreement Manager. The Guidance sets out the priorities for SFC, with Outcome Agreement development led by senior leaders and planners within each institution.

Matt Woodthorpe (EAUC Scotland Programme Manager) said:
"EAUC strongly welcomes the Scottish Funding Council’s priority of Net Zero and Environmental Sustainability Response within the latest Outcome Agreement Guidance for the Scottish college and university sector. We hope that this statement from SFC will strengthen college and university leadership for environmental and social sustainability action across all aspects of institutions – in governance, estates and operations, learning and teaching, research, and internal and external engagement.

Through our SFC-funded Step-change for Sustainability programme, we will support Scotland’s colleges and universities in meeting the new Outcome Agreement Guidance as well as the Scottish Government’s Public Sector Leadership on the Global Climate Emergency Guidance. Over the summer we will be working with SFC to develop a sustainability leadership checklist to help institutions with self-reporting against the guidance."

Priority area 5: Net zero and environmental sustainability response
14. Institutions should provide commentary of up to one page on implementing a whole-institutional climate emergency response across all key areas of activity and may wish to refer to current sector voluntary benchmarking frameworks. They should also include key operational measures undertaken in the current cycle or planned in the next towards compliance with the Scottish Government public sector carbon reporting and reduction guidance Public Sector Leadership on the Global Climate Emergency (October 2021).

15. We expect institutions to have or to put in place organisation-wide net zero and sustainability plans by the end of the calendar year 2024 if these do not already exist and to be able to highlight key priorities and dates for delivery of these. In the OA:
  • Institutions should provide the net zero target and commentary or data on progress in implementing a whole-institutional climate emergency response under each of the following areas including key priorities, linking with the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 “climate action” and other SDGs as appropriate: learning and teaching; skills; research, innovation and entrepreneurship; estates and supply chains; partnerships and place making; institutional governance and leadership; staff and student engagement and participation.
  • Institutions must profile their total estimated or actual baseline greenhouse gas emissions arising from their total operations and activities, any institution-specific net zero target, and a summary of emissions totals under scope group 1 and scope group 2 and for scope 3 business travel emissions. This relates to institutions’ contributions under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and related legislation.

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