Partners and politicians joined the team from Borders College recently, as the tertiary education institute launched their ambitious Sustainability Strategy 2020-2025, placing the College at the forefront of delivering the Scottish Government’s net-zero by 2045 target within the educational sector in Scotland.

Principal Angela Cox on the roof of Borders College with solar panels that provide energy to Scottish Borders Campus.
Principal Angela Cox on the roof of Borders College with solar panels that provide energy to Scottish Borders Campus.

With an ambition to fundamentally change the culture of the organisation, the Strategy will see sustainability at the core of everything the College does in providing staff, students and the community they work with, the knowledge and skills to make a positive contribution to becoming Net-Zero.

Underpinning the strategy are four objectives that set the intention of the College to: Develop awareness of, and implement good sustainable sector practice in all our learning programmes; Influence positive sustainable behaviours across the wider community; Adopt best ethical, sustainable, and social practices in our operations and supply chain; Promote sustainable innovation and the adoption of technological breakthroughs with our employers and stakeholders.

In her opening address at the launch, College Principal, Angela Cox, said:

“To achieve our strategy, Sustainability at Borders College will be at the core of who we are and what we do. It will shape and drive everything that happens here. We are ambitious to be national leaders and role models in the education and adoption of sustainable practice.”

Speaking at the launch event, Mr. Richard Lochhead, MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, said:

“Our journey to net-zero will require all parts of Scottish society to embrace the transformation required to meet our ambitious targets, and this strategy highlights the key role colleges can play in leading the changes needed in order for us to meet these targets.”

Reflecting the necessity for an approach to sustainability to be broad, the launch event included keynote presentations on the opportunity for the green economy in the south of Scotland, conservation and biodiversity, skills development, and behaviour change through operations. Ms. Cox said:

We have developed our strategy from strong foundations. It is through our agile and innovative practice that has led us to have a 34% reduction in our carbon footprint over the last 4 years, but we know we will achieve a greater impact if we work in partnership, across multiple aspects of sustainability.”

As a clear indication of the approach, key partners were invited to the launch as guest speakers. Scottish Council for Development and Industry chief executive officer, Ms. Sara Thiam, delivered the keynote address, detailing her organisation’s Green Manifesto and how the collaboration with the educational sector is crucial in delivering net-zero.  The importance of educating future generations to intuitively think and act sustainably is highlighted as part of the College’s Strategy through the key themes of behavioural change, global citizenship, and circular economy.

The launch event was closed by the interim Chair of the Borders College Board of Management, Elaine Acaster, commenting that:

“All contributors have given stimulating and supportive contributions on Borders College Sustainability Strategy and commitment to a topic of global significance. We have been enthused by their inspiring approaches to sustainability in its widest sense and look forward to continuing collaboration.  I thank them all.”

The delivery of the Sustainability Strategy will be supported by a host of operational plans, over the next five years.

A full copy of the Borders College Sustainability Strategy can be accessed here.