West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges

26 January 2023

Sustainability; the business benefits and how Shipley College is a world's first.

Natasha Wilkinson, Sustainability and Facilities Coordinator at Shipley College

Shipley College was the first college in the world to sign the SDG Accord in 2017 – what an achievement for a small FE College in West Yorkshire!

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals that aim to make our home, the world, a more sustainable place. They cover all aspects of life and include sections of sustainability you haven’t even thought of – let’s see how many we can pick out in this blog ….

Shipley College is working with the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges to lead on an SDG project, working in partnership with other college’s in West Yorkshire - SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals. As part of the project we have made some amazing progress to date;

  • Kirklees College have picked up the FE Climate Change Roadmap as an institution (SDG 13 Climate Action),
  • Luminate Education Group have been concentrating on SDG 1 No Poverty, to help with the cost of living crisis,
  • Bradford College have made links between the SDG team and the motor vehicle department (SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), and
  • Calderdale College have been busy setting up projects, which includes planters to grow food (SDG 2 Zero Hunger) and organise a waste and catering group (SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production) – this is just to name a few!

From the project and our SDG commitment, we have realised that this amazing commitment can’t stop at education level – it needs to go beyond, into the working world (SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth). As our students transition through college into their jobs, they will be carrying the skills needed to make businesses more sustainable. But why stop there?

Businesses can take their own approach - Why not look at the WYCC's The Green Skills Service pages, to see what events and courses (SDG 4 Quality Education) businesses can take to get a head start…

But will this benefit my business?

Sustainability is becoming more and more important for all businesses, it is changing from a “nice to have” to a “economic, social and environmental need”. Let’s see some key benefits below:

  • Reduction in energy usage/Switch to clean energy (SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy) – Adopt more efficient machinery, sustainable lighting (LED lighting) or infrastructure (solar panels) – it will cut the cost of your energy bills too.
  • Less Waste Production (SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production) – Can you reuse materials or adopt a recycling strategy? It may just be the reason an employee decides to work for you.
  • Less pollution – This can only be a good thing, right? But maybe you can also eliminate how much you spend on environmental regulatory compliance fees – in turn you can make SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities by improving local air and water quality (SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation).
  • Increases staff morale and health – Sustainability is a buzzword these days, so what employee would not want to work for a sustainable business? And happy employees are also productive employees (SDG 3 Good Health and Wellbeing).
  • Good reputations with employees, customers and partners – You may go further to SDG 10 Reduce Inequalities in the workplace or ensure everyone is paid the same regardless of gender (SDG 5 Gender Equality). This will increase your businesses reputation and word of mouth may even increase your customer base. There could even be more opportunities with partners when your reputation continues to increase.

14 out of 17 SDGs in one blog, EASY – so you’ll definitely be able to incorporate some of the SDGs into your business!

Find out about the benefits for businesses in signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals (UN website)


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