Reflecting on Our Journey: A Year of Meaningful Climate Action 

25 Mar 2024

Earthshot Prize winner Vidyut Mohan 2

As we mark 15 months since our bold declaration of a climate emergency, it’s a moment of reflection, celebration, and recommitment. Our journey, driven by our foundational belief in a socially and environmentally just society, has been both challenging and exhilarating. Today, we stand at a pivotal juncture, looking back at the progress we’ve made and forward to the path we’re setting for the future. 

 A Year of Impactful Actions 

Our commitment, articulated through 12 ambitious actions, was more than a pledge—it was a strategic blueprint for real change. From integrating decarbonisation into our educational programs to enhancing our operational sustainability, every step was designed to amplify our impact. 

 Educational Empowerment 

We’ve significantly advanced our learning programs, embedding a decarbonisation module into all long-duration programmes, thereby equipping our students with the knowledge to make strides towards environmental change. We hosted successful environmental events for our Fellows and students, covering topics such as ‘climate anxiety and overwhelm’ (based on feedback we were receiving from students), and ‘Love your planet: intelligent activism’. We engaged with sector experts and made it a priority to showcase our Fellows who are making significant environmental impacts in their communities, celebrating their achievements and inspiring others.  

Operational Excellence and impact 

We have started on our internal journey towards reducing our carbon footprint. The development of a baseline impact report, enhanced recycling measures, and a strategic approach to our energy use have been crucial in driving our organisational sustainability.  

We quickly realised that our main impact lies with our students and Fellows. We have started the process of refreshing our Theory of Change and worked with the project leads to ensure that our climate action values are embedded throughout. This will lead to a new measuring and evaluation framework next year, where we can start tracking longitudinal environmental data of our Fellows.  

Strategic Investments 

Our commitment to scrutinize the ecological credentials of our partners and suppliers has led to more sustainable operational practices, reflecting our dedication to a just transition. We ensured that climate action values and processes were embedded in the selection criteria for our offices and completed on a building for our new home with an EPC C rating. This has given us a great base to improve on for the coming year. 

Lessons Learned and Challenges Faced 

The journey was enlightening, teaching us the importance of adaptability, and the need for relentless focus on our mission. We’ve faced challenges, from aligning our diverse initiatives with our overarching goals to ensuring our actions have a measurable impact. We’ve also been delayed in some of our goals, due to delays in purchasing our new property for example, which so many of our actions were reliant on (new energy suppliers, more control of internal office processes, etc). These experiences have not only shaped our strategy but have also strengthened our resolve.  

Looking Ahead: Our 2024-25 Action Plan 

Building on the foundations laid and lessons learned, we are excited to unveil our action plan for the financial year 2024-25. Our commitments are designed to deepen our impact, broaden our reach, and accelerate our contribution to a just and sustainable future. 

Advancing sustainability: Students & Fellows 

  • Continue to evolve and review our programmes, incorporating cutting-edge sustainability content and fostering an even stronger community of environmental changemakers. Our focus will be on scaling these impacts, ensuring that every learner can feel confident in this sphere.  
  • Create climate focussed short courses and online events, continuing to develop a prominent online platform for engagement. 
  • Harness the insights of our SSE Fellows, leveraging their expertise for impactful policy and advocacy; amplifying their voices to influence meaningful environmental change. 

Strategic Environmental Partnerships 

  • We commit to being intentional in identifying and integrating environmental themes from a development perspective, actively seeking partnerships organisations dedicated to making impactful changes in the green space. 

Operational Sustainability 

  • Building on our progress, we will introduce new initiatives to further reduce our environmental footprint, focusing on energy efficiency, waste reduction, and sustainable procurement practices in our new office.  
  • Launch our new Theory of Change with a measuring and evaluation framework to start tracking our Fellow’s and students’ longitudinal environmental data. 

Innovative Investments 

  • Consider the climate and ecological credentials of our suppliers, such as utilities, banks, and pension providers and, where appropriate, change suppliers in favour of those with more sustainable climate and ecological practices. 

A Renewed Commitment to Our Vision 

As we embark on this next phase, our vision remains clear: to realise the full potential of all people in a socially and environmentally just society. Our updated action plan is a testament to our unwavering commitment to this vision, embodying our dedication to empower, equip, and inspire. 

We invite you, our community, to join us in this journey. Together, we can create a future that is not only sustainable but also thriving, equitable, and just. Our collective action today will shape the legacy we leave for generations to come.