21st November 2017Building upon the strong partnership between the EAUC and Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the EAUC-Scotland team have been working with the Outcome Agreement team at SFC to further commitment to sustainability at a senior level. This activity is now reflected in the Outcome Agreement Guidance published in October 2017. As a result, universities and colleges in Scotland are now encouraged to demonstrate leadership in environmental and social sustainability.
EAUC-Scotland’s current programme focuses on catalysing sustainability leadership Scotland’s Universities and Colleges, and the Outcome Agreement process is an important way to influence institutional priorities at the senior level. We hope that this clear statement from SFC on the importance of environmental and social sustainability within institutions’ commitments will strengthen the mandate for this work within Scottish FHE institutions – in governance, estates and operations, learning and teaching, research, and internal and external engagement. The next stage for our team is to open dialogue with the leaders of the Outcome Agreement process for different institutions and regions to raise awareness and offer support, and we encourage our contacts to use the opportunity of the Outcome Agreement Guidance update to do the same within their own institutions.
Leadership in Environmental and Social Sustainability
The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 set ambitious targets for carbon reduction in Scotland, and led to the requirement for Colleges/Universities to submit an annual Public Bodies Climate Change Duties (PBCCD) Report detailing their compliance. The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) will support development of effective emissions reduction action plans, and work with SFC through implementation of their own 2017-2020 Outcome Agreement to monitor continual individual and sector progress on both the quality of reporting and actions to address climate change impacts. College regions/Universities are expected to complete both the ‘Required’ and ‘Wider Influence’ sections of PBCCD Reporting.
Building upon the Universities and Colleges Climate Commitment for Scotland, we expect all institutions to demonstrate leadership in addressing environmental and social sustainability challenges. Colleges/Universities must outline climate change and sustainability ambitions and targets in their Outcome Agreements, and demonstrate action through implementation of a dedicated Sustainability Strategy, or the embedding of environmental and social sustainability ambitions within corporate Strategic Plans. Progress should be reported through PBCCD Reporting submissions and the Outcome Agreement process. With support available through the EAUC’s programme, demonstrating leadership is expected to include senior-level strategic commitment, effective staff and student engagement, partnership working through internal and external networks, and meaningful progress on both climate change and wider environmental and social sustainability.
We expect leadership in environmental and social sustainability to strengthen the competitiveness of Scottish tertiary education, supporting SFC priorities by minimising financial and reputational risks, offering innovative opportunities for growth, assisting in attracting and retaining talented staff, enhancing the learner experience, and ensuring students develop the understanding of environmental and social sustainability required for the workplaces of tomorrow.