Our framework for change
It is widely recognised that sustainability is a journey, not a destination. A fundamental question, then, is how to keep going when the path is not always clear.
The key to answering this question is to recognise that sustainability is an ethical concept, invoking the values that underpin what we care about beyond our own self-interest.
To keep going on the journey, we need to internalise the values that underpin sustainability, give people opportunities to reflect on their existing values and practices, test new ways of behaving, and have these confirmed as appropriate.
Elements of change
There are four key elements critical for building organisational values necessary for momentum in sustainability initiatives – leadership, support, communication, and involvement.
All four of these values need to be incorporated into a customised programme that reflects the unique context of an organisation. To understand how to integrate these values, you need to firstly understand your organisation.
For the University, we followed a seven-step framework for organisational learning and change.
- We assessed our context, looking at what we already had, and what people wanted.
- We created a customised programme developing initiatives in the key areas that were marked as important and had potential for cross-university leadership and involvement.
- We addressed priority areas of concern, such as designing and establishing a recycling system in the Quad and our offices, engaging with our students and staff.
- We did baseline assessments before we implemented changes, to make sure we could see how effective our initiatives were.
- We used the baseline data to increase our focus on priority areas and see where we could make further improvements.
- Once the initiatives had been put in place, we measured outcomes and were sure to promote our results to specific stakeholders and more broadly across the University.
- We kept, and still keep, reassessing our context after each new initiative, finding new ways to show and enable leadership, gain and provide support and communicate effectively.