Earlier this year, Macquarie University, Kemmy Business School and Hult Business School shared their experiences putting together their most recent Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reports. One of the challenges that these schools, and many more face when approaching their SIP is what to include and what to leave out. I spoke with Mattias Sundemo, Sustainability Coordinator at the School of Business, Economics and Law at University of Gothenburg about their report and what tips he had for others working on their reports.
What approach did you take when preparing your report
The main authors of the report were Professor Olof Johansson Stenman (vice dean for research and professor of economics) and myself (Sustainability Strategist and Coordinator) but several individual researchers contributed with short description of their research. Our main goal with this report was to share some of our challenges, experiences and achievements, and not produce a glitzy marketing product. That meant that we shared more information about both our successes as well as the areas where we struggled and where progress was slower than we would have hoped for. We also wanted to keep it short and focused and something that was interesting for a wider international audience. Because of this, we did therefore not include unnecessary tables and figures just because we had the data. This time we focused a little more on individual stories and examples that we found inspiring ourselves.
How did you go about putting together the report itself?
In hindsight we could have been better at gathering data in between SIP reports. Even though we still can do much better here, I think we were more prepared this time compared to previous reports. Olof and I had written and contributed to several reports together before (for example EQUIS) and it was important to try to find as much synergy as possible with the EQUIS and AACSB processes as well as with the reporting to our environmental management system ISO 14001.
How did you approach the SDGs in your reporting?
We initially had an idea of framing the whole report through a SDG lens, but then didn’t really find a natural way of doing so. We also realized that it would make the six principles less apparent. Instead, we gave some examples of how we have approached the SDGs, especially in education. Since our last report we have had nine different faculty workshop on the SDGs and we are currently putting into action some of the ideas that came out of those workshops. This is something we will report back on in our next SIP report.
What parts of the report are you particularly proud of and why?
Perhaps it would be the stories covering the Efd (Environment for Development) initiative and its policy impacts around the world. The overall objective of the Efd is to support poverty reduction and sustainable development by increasing the use of environmental economics in the public policy processes. Efd is led by Gunnar Köhlin, a researcher in economics here at the School and Efd has now a dozen centers around the world, particularly in developing countries.
Another thing to be very proud of is our fantastic students and the work that is carried out by “Handels Students for Sustainability”.
What were some of the challenges in putting the information together and how did you overcome these? Successes?
I would say that finding the time was the most important challenge. Making a good plan for the process is important, and when you think you are almost done, read the whole thing again!
How has the report been received? Have you been using it/communicating the report?
It has been well received by different stakeholders. It is very useful for us to have something that describes our work on sustainability for corporate partners, other universities, governmental bodies and the broader society.
What’s next for your SIP?
I think that the SDGs will have a more prominent place in our next SIP, for example covering the output of the SDG workshop carried out now in early 2019 and the pretty extensive research mapping to the SDGs that all departments are carrying out right now. Our new and improved Business and Economics program where we address ethics and sustainability in new ways will also likely be a part of next year’s report. We hope to be able to provide some inspiration next year as well!
What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?
The obvious things might be to prepare in advance and to collect material between the reporting periods. But more importantly I think that it is a good idea to approach the task not as a “tick a box exercise” that needs to be done, but rather seize the opportunity and try to make something useful. If you put a little more effort into the reporting (than what is required as minimum) you will have a product that is actually useful both internally and externally.