Our climate commitment
UHI’s Sustainability Strategy to 2030 is a bold step in recognition of the ecological and climate emergencies facing our young people. The strategy is one that enables and initiates actions for a better future for people and our planet. It is the start of a process of future proofing UHI for the unprecedented changes, impacts, and the opportunities the institution will have to realise and contend with. Not only will UHI reduce its emissions it will become energy secure and importantly adapt to climate change reducing its risks and vulnerabilities.
Aligned with our strategic theme of being an environmentally sustainable institution we will reduce our wider environmental impacts, re-balance, correct and continuously improve to become a ‘One Planet’ institution using United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as our benchmark and to measure our progress. We will embed SDGs in our learning and teaching, equipping our students to play their part to make a positive difference to their communities and the natural environment at a time when the world is experiencing unprecedented environmental changes.
Our Green Champions Network of staff and students and our Students’ Association will be represented in the implementation and monitoring of this strategy. We look forward to working together on implementing this strategy and collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders, agencies, communities, and those who share our sense of urgency and values and the important work that follows.
Vicki Nairn, UHI Principal and Vice-Chancellor
Outcomes - what do want to achieve?
- Change mindsets and behaviours. Empower staff & disrupt the status quo.
- Energy Security and Net Zero emissions.
- To be resilient and adapted to climate change.
- Minimise and manage our use of resources including procurement.
- Increase biodiversity. Managing land, water and soils for climate and biodiversity.
- Support, train and enable students, leaders, staff and key partners to deliver our vision.
- To embed learning for sustainability into all courses.
- Meet UN SDGs. A One Planet approach.
- Prioritise and align research and knowledge exchange with our vision.
- Report and monitor performance.
We acknowledge the Scottish Government’s climate emergency declaration in May 2019, and welcomes the changes set out in the Climate Change (Duties of Public Bodies: Reporting Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020.
Each public body within the UHI partnership has individual responsibility for collating and submitting their own return (published on the Sustainable Scotland Network website), and through 2020 we have worked with EAUC Scotland to develop emissions data for the academic partners that are not public bodies.
In June 2023 the UHI Court approved a new sustainability strategy 2023-2030 and new Sustainability Policy. To drive forward implementation a new implementation board will be created out of the groups which oversaw strategy and policy drafting. This group will be comprise managers and representatives from estates, facilities and finance and procurement, academics and the Green Champions Network and HISA. In addition to the partnership-wide strategy several academic partners have their own carbon management plans which focus on local work and targets.
Building on progress to date, and illustrating our ongoing commitment in facing up to the climate and ecological emergencies we are now seeking to take forward a range of other initiatives in areas such as climate risks and adaptation, biodiversity, learning & teaching, knowledge exchange and research.
By signing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Accord our principal and vice-chancellor has committed to do more to deliver the sustainable development goals, and to report annually on our progress, sharing our learning with each other both nationally and internationally. We will be using UN SDGs as a set of metrics to measure our progress towards becoming a ‘One Planet’ institution.
By signing the Universities and Colleges Race to Zero pledge our principal and vice-chancellor has committed to reach (net) zero greenhouse gases as soon as possible, and by mid-century at the latest, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5C.