The climate crisis is one of the biggest challenges we face today. It impacts not only our own students, colleagues and wider Edinburgh Napier community, but those in other communities in our city, our country and around the world. We all have something at stake, and we all have a part to play.
Our overall University Strategy, Driving Distinctiveness, sets out how we will enhance and strengthen our impact and play our part in the recovery, success and sustainability of Scotland and beyond. The new objectives within the strategy are underpinned by a commitment to sustainability, and it is this commitment that will drive our actions and initiatives over the coming years.
In 2019, colleagues from across the University took part in a series of workshops to share and discuss their thoughts, ambitions, hopes and fears surrounding the University’s work around sustainability. Out of those conversations, along with a number of ongoing conversations with our staff, students and wider community, grew actions and commitments, which over the past few years have evolved into what is our new Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
This strategy is not the beginning of our work; it is a beginning and recognises that we stand at a pivotal moment. It provides opportunities for our entire University community to work together, further developing a culture of change and providing a structured platform for individuals, teams and wider community-led groups to own and take responsibility of key actions that will enable us to meet our commitments.
In our strategy, we commit to:
- Taking progressive action to achieve net zero carbon in our operations by 2030 at the latest, while also seeking to minimise both our wider and legacy carbon footprint and influence sustainable practices within and beyond our campuses.
- Combining the expertise and motivation of our community to enhance environmental sustainability within and beyond the University through our curriculum, research, operations, partnerships and engagement.
- Aligning and building academic excellence focused on Wellbeing & Sustainability, underpinned by the themes of: Health; Environment; AI & Technologies; and Culture & Communities.
- Demonstrating delivery against Scotland’s National Performance Framework and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by signing the Sustainable Development Goals Accord.
The document itself sets out the tangible opportunities and goals we will be pursuing to meet our commitments. Along with an Actions & Projects Register, we will collate and encourage a live and adaptable action list highlighting projects that will enable the delivery of these. The strategy will be reviewed and updated annually to ensure all opportunities listed are aspirational, relevant to our work and look ahead at least three academic years in time.
However, we also recognise that in order to make an impact, a strategy document alone is not enough. The Edinburgh Napier community and all the individuals, departments, organisations and teams it encompasses must be empowered and supported to lead on actions which will drive change and build a culture where sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. To support and ensure community leadership, the Environmental Sustainability Strategy Group (ESSG), which represents the university staff and student community, will lead on our sustainability work. There is a link to the ESSG at the bottom of this page.
All of us are accountable, from leadership within spaces with significant environmental impact such as laboratories to personal impact such as waste management and the day-to-day commute. We must continue to identify areas where we can make a difference, take responsibility and work collaboratively with those around us.
In March 2022, we reached out to students and ran facilitated 'Environmental Sustainability: Be a Difference Maker' discussion groups. We will lead staff focused groups from the start of the 2022/2023 academic year. The sessions will support further feedback around what the University can do to support action, both on an individual level and around larger projects.
In the meantime, our Environmental Sustainability Strategy document is available below for members of our University community to read and reflect on. If you have any ideas you would like to contribute, please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.