Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Responsible Investments and Procurement

The University of Edinburgh will start 2021 having completed its commitment to divest from fossil fuels.

Green finance

This reflects the priorities agreed in the 2015 and 2018 review. In 2015 we committed to end coal and tar sands investment, to prioritise low carbon investments across other industries, and in 2018 we committed to full divestment from direct equities.  

As a signatory of the United Nations (UN) Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) we are committed to incorporating environmental, social and governance issues into our investment analysis, decision-making, policies and practices.  As an early adopter of the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures within our PRI reporting we were recognised as part of the PRI Leaders 2019.  Each year we are assessed by PRI in relation to how the principles are implemented.  In July 2020 we received an overall score of A and maintained its "straight As" score across each of the categories from the PRI's 2019 report.

The University was a founding member of a new Responsible Investment Network within higher education that will explore how universities can invest ethically. The new Responsible Investment Network - Universities will provide a means for the University of Edinburgh to share ideas with the University of Cambridge and St Anne's College Oxford on responsible investment best practice, such as stewardship of investments, engaging with asset managers, making social investments, and involving students and university staff. Together the three founding institutions represent around £5.4 billion in assets under management. 

Read more about the University’s Social Investments

Sustainable procurement 

Procurement provides opportunities for the University to promote fair and ethical supply chains, further delivering positive impact for society.

The University has been working to identify potential social and environmental impacts of its supply chains, throughout the lifecycle of products and services it procures, from the stage of extracting raw materials all the way up to disposal. This included University procurement policies and practices BEING benchmarked against the ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement guidance. 

Alongside this work, the University has been developing a better understanding of carbon emissions from its procurement. Spend and non-spend methodologies were used to analyse data from suppliers. Recommendations to improve reporting and identify measures to reduce carbon emissions are being considered.

The University publishes an annual statement regarding the Modern Slavery Act 2015, setting out its approach to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in our supply chains or in any part of our activities. The University has continued to collaborate with ten partner organisations on the EU-funded three-year project entitled Make ICT Fair, which is entered its third year. This includes carrying out research on labour issues in electronics supply chains, and working on pilot procurement projects related to mitigating the social and environmental impacts of mining. We incorporated modern slavery awareness into our 2019 Fairtrade Fortnight social media campaign.

Case studies

University of Edinburgh recognised for responsible investment excellence

University is founding member in new Responsible Investment Network

University of Edinburgh wins three Green Gown Awards for commitment to sustainability

University invests £5 million in green projects

Make ICT Fair project