Q1 highlights for 2020/21

The Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability (SRS) facilitates programmes to catalyse action and collaboration across campus for impact.

In 2015, we started sharing our quarterly update to keep our student, staff and the wider community informed about what we were up to, our highlights and lessons learned.  As we set out our new programme plans it is a tradition we want to continue and, as always, would welcome your thoughts and suggestions on things you would like to hear about.

The shared vision across our programme areas is that sustainability and social responsibility is fully integrated and embedded across the organisation. This supports the delivery of the University’s Social and Civic Responsibility Plan including our commitments to become zero carbon, zero waste and a have positive social impact near and far. The purpose of this update is to share highlights from the work we are delivering on in the department and not the wider University action and outcomes.

To say that the following few months have been extraordinary seems like an understatement. Our team has continued to work to deliver high quality services, to catalyse action and collaboration.

Key successes

  • £29,871 invested in community projects via the Community Grants
  • 285 staff and 241 students are currently part of the Sustainability Champions network
  • 214 staff and students attended our events 
  • 99 computers were reused internally and with community partners since August through the re-started IT Reuse Project
  • 63 students completed the Be Sustainable Online induction
  • 12 staff and 16 students completed the pilot Carbon Literacy Training

Programme updates


This programme supports action to protect and enhance conditions for biodiversity on our campuses aligned with the Climate Adaptation Framework. In recent months you may have noticed the action taking place to support becoming a Hedgehog Friendly Campus including surveys and litter picking. The Green Infrastructure Mapping App ‘How Green is your Campus’ is at an exciting phase in development and was nominated, along with Hedgehog Friendly Campus work, as a finalist in the Green Gown Awards. The University is part of the Future Parks Accelerator Partnership, contributing a green space mapping pilot project. 

Community Engagement 

This team has been working to deliver impactful projects and engagement with local communities and working on the development and roll out of the recently launched Community Plan. So far in this quarter, £29,871 has been invested in community projects through the Community Grants scheme and the team and next steps for employee volunteering and digital inclusion are being developed. 224 staff members of the Edinburgh Community Engagement Forum are sharing good practice and lessons learned. 

Did you notice that from the wee seed of the community grant back in 2018 our 180 service is still going strong and more in demand than ever due to these challenging times!

One of our first Community Grants recipients  
Student Leadership for Sustainability

This programme has been supporting efforts to ensure students have opportunities to develop knowledge, skills and actions to address the climate crisis. The team worked with senior leaders in one of the University groups to support their plans and actions in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sustainability Leadership and Innovation

We've been supporting staff contributions to zero carbon and zero waste goals through impactful engagement projects. The team identified new carbon and cost savings projects for the Sustainable Campus Fund and building standards were reviewed for integration of climate and sustainability commitments. Work progressed on Climate Conscious Travel and the team provided offset guidance for researchers to align with emerging requirements and standards. 

It has made me think and has made me confident that I can make small, simple changes that will help and which I can hopefully encourage others to do as well.

Attendee of the Carbon Literacy Training 
SRS in Supply Chains and Investments

The University aims to help make its supply chains and the businesses we buy from and invest in more sustainable. Over the last few months we have collaborated on lab plastics and sustainability issues in gloves supply chains and provided support for the roll out of a tool to calculate the carbon footprint from catered food. We have continued to work with partners on a Make ICT Fair research project addressing human rights in ICT supply chains and worked with colleagues across the University on the Modern Slavery reporting and action plan.  Finance efforts were recognised in being awarded an 'A' in the Principles for Responsible Investment assessment.   

Get involved

Through the programmes we deliver we will contribute to the delivery of our goals and work with others to embed sustainability and social responsibility across the University. Get in touch. Get involved. We look forward to working with you in 2021!

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