Serious About Sustainability? Then Learn How To Put It Into Practice
A programme of five short courses, held over two weeks in May 2019, seeks to introduce a wide range of working professionals to the notion of ‘sustainable practice’.
The shape of sustainability
Sustainability is a bit like motherhood and apple pie – an indubitably good thing that no one will argue against. Indeed, most larger businesses and organisations now include a pledge to become more sustainable in their statements of corporate social responsibility.
A statement of intent is one thing, however, and putting it into action quite another – so how does an organisation integrate sustainability into its everyday processes?
This is the question that a new programme will address. Integrating sustainability, which will run from 20 May to 31 May this year, will look at the fundamental principles of sustainability, and how to put them into practice.
The programme will act as an introduction for working professionals – whether from large corporates, small businesses or charities – who want to find out how sustainability can shape their businesses or professional practice, and what they can gain from starting to engage with sustainability. Attendance will satisfy professional development (CPD) hours required in many professional roles.
It’s not just about your carbon footprint
Topics covered will be wide-ranging. Course Director Nigel Mehdi, Lecturer in Sustainable Urban Development, says, ‘We cover a little bit about how to reduce your carbon footprint, but the course is not about reducing carbon emissions – it's about much more than that. But employment practices are a part of sustainability, as are supply chain practices.’
The programme, which consists of five short courses over two weeks, is designed to be flexible, so that attendees can choose which courses they want to attend.
In the first week, three courses will be on offer. ‘Thinking About Sustainability’ is an introductory one-day event covering the fundamentals of sustainability. ‘Serious About Sustainability’, which also runs over one day, looks at the practical applications of sustainable thinking to develop strategies and initiatives. ‘Measuring Sustainability’, which lasts two days, covers methods for measuring the sustainability of an organisation or a business process.
In the second week, two courses will be on offer. The first, ‘Corporate Sustainability Frameworks’, runs over two days and is aimed at people working in corporate sustainability departments in medium-sized or larger organisations. It will introduce attendees to an environmental, social and governance framework framework for planning, implementing, measuring and evaluating corporate sustainability.
‘Sustainability Reporting', also runs over two days. Sustainability reporting is now mandatory in many countries, and the course will cover good practice, including looking beyond regulatory compliance to show that your organisation is serious about its wider obligations to the environment and society.
Sustainability is a journey
Even organisations with established sustainability policies and practices can benefit from these courses.
Says Mehdi, ‘Sustainability is a journey – you never can arrive. Let's take a company like Marks and Spencer, which is quite well advanced. They can still, for the next 10 years, improve further. You never say, “Well, we're now sustainable”, because legislation changes, and public perception changes in terms of what is expected of a company, and the ability to do better.’
Mehdi expects some attendees to attend both weeks, while others will choose either the first or second week.
‘For each organisation, the choice of what to do is going to be very personal for that organisation – there is no prescription,’ he says. ‘It depends on a lot of things. It depends on what sort of business they're in, and what the organisation does. Achieving sustainability for a coal-fired power plant is completely different from achieving sustainability for a professional services firm.’
The courses will be taught by a small, specialised interdisciplinary team of experts, and will take place at Rewley House. Students will benefit from interactive learning – including workshops and group discussions – making the most of the varied backgrounds and experiences of the people attending.
‘A lot of the benefit of these courses comes from the peer effect and being with other people – working in groups is part of it,’ says Mehdi.
Attendance of the course will count towards continuing professional development (CPD) hours required in many professional roles.
‘The aim is that those who complete the course will be able to take what they’ve learnt and put it into practice in their own organisations,’ says Mehdi: ‘It's about empowering people to go and “build their own” – to implement sustainability beyond the course.’
Published 4 February 2019