One year ago, we were delighted when the University, in recognition of the seriousness of the climate change challenge, agreed the ambitious goal to become carbon neutral by 2040.

Since launching the Climate Strategy, the University has stepped up its efforts on climate change by creating the Sustainable Campus Fund, developing a high level implementation plan, continuing to deliver programmes which support positive behaviours and reuse. The University has moved £60 million of its endowment funds to support the transition to a low carbon economy.

The last year has also seen the University make significant progress across wider social responsibility and sustainability areas. A new Modern Slavery Statement was published, highlighting the University’s commitment to protecting and respecting human rights. A Good Food Policy was developed, setting out the University’s whole institution approach to food and its connection to health and sustainability.

In 2016, the University was one of the first higher education institutions in Scotland to sign the Social Impact Pledge, formally committing to increase its positive impact on society. A local community engagement programme was launched by the University, continuing efforts to make a positive contribution to the city, by having meaningful relationships with local communities. The University invested £1.5 million in Big Issue Invest, an initiative which offers loans to social enterprise, charities and profit-with-purpose businesses.

As a leading employer in Edinburgh for youth and student employment, the University aims to inspire and develop the next generation workforce. A new Youth and Student Employment Strategy was launched in 2017, presenting the University’s approach in this area.  

The University is committed to making a positive contribution to society, through the efforts of its staff and students. The University’s recent decision to become a signatory of the Sustainable Development Goals Accord, is a further reflection of this commitment. This report recognises and demonstrates our contribution to these goals.

A lot of progress has been made towards making Edinburgh a socially responsible and sustainable university, as demonstrated by this report, however we know there is much more to do. We look forward to working with our staff and students over the next year on this shared ambition.

Dave Gorman

Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability

The road to net zero carbon