Embedding the SDGs into your First Report – Experiences from Macquarie University

Over the past few weeks PRiMEtime has focused on the Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) with examples, resources and tips. To finish off this series, we feature Macquarie University Faculty of Business and Economics who recently submitted their first SIP.

I spoke with Leonie Tickle, responsible for coordinating the report, about their experiences, challenges and successes.

What approach did you take when preparing your report?

We started collecting information about 12 months out by setting up a shared repository where we dropped anything of relevance – this was really useful. We put together a working party to help with various sections of the report and so that we had representation from all of the Departments in the business school. We also talked with our university sustainability office, and we did our first ever survey of student attitudes to PRME and the SDGs.

How did you go about putting together the report itself? 

We decided to structure the report around the PRME principles and then within each principle, we related each initiative back to the relevant SDGs – this proved to work really well for us. We put a heavy emphasis in our report on profiles of people and initiatives, which we hoped would add more flavour and interest.

How did you approach the SDGs in your reporting?

The SDGs were central to the way that we framed the report. We related every initiative / activity that we described in the report back to the relevant SDGs. We were happy – and a little surprised – to discover that we were teaching across all but one of the SDGs and researching across all of them. It was also a great way to see at a glance the SDGs in which we had really strong activity. 

What parts of the report are you particularly proud of and why?

I’m really pleased that we had a strong emphasis on measuring our activities and achievements (through a student survey, and through audits of our teaching, research and partnerships across the SDGs). These statistics will give us a great foundation for measuring our ongoing progress in future reports. I’m pleased that our report captured not only the great activities undertaken by our staff, but also by our students. Finally, I’m glad that the process of preparing the report created connections and enthusiasm to do more.

What were some of the challenges in putting the information together and how did you overcome these? Successes?

The biggest challenge that we faced was actually identifying and fully capturing all that we do that’s of relevance to PRME. We are a large business school, with around 17,000 students, many units and programs of study, and many staff involved in research, teaching and partnership activities that are related to PRME and the SDGs. Information about these initiatives and activities are held in many different locations and systems, and often just in people’s heads! So we spent a lot of time, especially initially, talking with many people and gathering information from many sources, to try to ensure that we weren’t leaving out anything important.

How has the report been received? Have you been using it/communicating the report?

The report has been really well received. We’ve distributed it internally in the broader university as well as externally and I think it has highlighted for people how many initiatives and activities are going on in the area of PRME and the SDGs in our business school. It’s also been a great resource and we’ve used the statistics in the report as well as the profiles for other reporting and promotional activities.

What’s next for your SIP?

It was a useful process to prepare our first SIP. We identified a lot of great initiatives and people in that process, and we put in place systems for collecting relevant data and for bringing together those with an interest in this area. I hope that this will all pay off for our second SIP – that it will be quicker and easier to pull together information, and that we’ll have a larger group of people involved who were brought together by the first SIP. I’m also looking forward to being able to evaluate our progress, using the foundation that we laid down in the first SIP.

What advice would you have for other schools working on their first SIP?

Start the process of collecting information early! – it’s much easier to put relevant information aside as it comes up, than to collect it while preparing the report. And use the process of preparing the SIP to build extra engagement and momentum around your PRME and SDG initiatives.

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