A number of studies and reviews in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to the first UWA environmental policy statement in 2001. Following best practice this statement was incorporated into an integrated Health, Safety and Environmental policy statement for the University.
While this was the first time a written policy was developed by the university it should not be thought that there was a complete lack of environmental initiatives and improvements previously (for example in the early 1990’s the self-catering halls of residence on Penglais campus won an energy conservation award). Rather, the written policy was the start of a systematic process to assess and address our significant environmental aspects and impacts.
While work progressed on the key areas of energy consumption and waste management, it was evident that a range of issues had yet to be addressed. In order to help prioritise efforts in these other areas a consultative group was established: the UWA Sustainability Advisory Group (SAG). This group was composed of stakeholders from across the institution (Academic Staff; Technical Staff; Students Union; Estates Office; Information Services; Residential Services; Design and Printing Service; Finance Office) and facilitated by the Safety & Environment Office.
SAG met on a number of occasions between late 2003 and early 2005 and resulted in a range of initiatives that were taken on by a variety of UWA departments. The key deliverable of the group having been achieved, SAG was then disbanded (it being a consultative group rather than one with management authority – this rests with the senior management and functional departments).
In 2006 the University established an overall Environmental Strategy Group under the leadership of a Pro Vice-Chancellor. This group has the aim of establishing and maintaining the AU Environmental Strategy to address the significant environmental impacts of the institution and make recommendations in terms of policy, objectives and targets. The strategy incorporates pre-existing initiatives and programmes of work, while being sensitive to other opportunities for improvement in environmental performance made possible by developments in technology and resources.
In 2007 the ‘People and Planet’ organisation published results of a survey that sought to assess the environmental performance of UK Higher Education institutions. The low ranking of UWA did not reflect our policies, programmes of work or progress that has been made over recent years (whilst acknowledging the work and progress that remains to be achieved). It became clear that access to all the relevant information was not straightforward for the authors of the study. To improve communication in future is the central objective in creating and maintaining these Web Pages, which will also be key in future consultations with AU stakeholders.
In 2008 the People and Planet 'Green League' survey gave Aberystwyth University a ranking of 53 (44 points higher than in 2007). This significant change was due in part to progress with our strategy and in part better communication of what had already been achieved.