The fourth edition of the ‘Catalogue of Good Practices of Universities’ has been produced, this time devoted to ESG factors, i.e. environmental (Environmental), social (Social) and organisational governance (Corporate Governance). One of the signatories of the Declaration of University Social Responsibility since 2017 is the University of Gdańsk, which also presented its good practices in this year’s publication.
The University of Gdańsk was one of the twenty-three universities that signed the Declaration of University Social Responsibility in 2017. The document, which consists of 12 principles, concerns the implementation of sustainable development goals, striving to provide high-quality research and education and caring for the comprehensive development of the academic community.
This is the fourth ‘Good Practice Catalogue’. Previous editions dealt with, among other things, the social responsibility of universities concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the ethical and non-discriminatory dimension.
This year’s publication deals with ESG. It was created by a team led by prof. dr hab. Anna Odrowąż-Coates from the Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Education. As we read in the report, good social responsibility practices of HEIs were assigned to areas of sustainable development: the environmental area (environmental, E), the social area (social, S) and the organisational governance area (governance, G). These areas are components of what is known as ESG, as applied in the corporate social responsibility space.
‘Recently, the approach to sustainability using ESG factor analysis has become a common way of implementing the concept in which society, corporate and organisational governance and the environment co-create the foundation of any organisation,’ says dr hab. Barbara Pawlowska, prof. UG ‘In a university context, these factors play a key role in creating its future based on sustainable development. In the environmental area, universities take initiatives to counteract environmental degradation. This includes issues of climate neutrality, focusing on energy consumption, emissions, water management, waste management, use of renewable energy, taking care of biodiversity and transport on campus. In the category of social factors, universities engage the academic community on social responsibility and human rights issues: they work towards gender equality, respect for labour rights, data security and protection or social inclusivity. And in the area of organisational governance, universities implement good practices that take into account organisational structure. Together, these areas form a holistic approach to sustainability, targeting long-term social and environmental benefits. Addressing this topic in the catalogue is important to bring together activities and experiences in this area in the academic world.’
The University of Gdańsk submitted good practices in each of the three categories. The preparation of the UG’s good practices was coordinated by prof. Barbara Pawłowska and dr Krzysztof Szczepaniak.
Green university - production of electricity for the university’s own needs from photovoltaic installations (Environment category)
By implementing photovoltaic installations, the University of Gdańsk intends to contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
‘The electricity consumption of the Neophilology building of the Faculty of Philology at the University of Gdańsk in 2020 was 998,435.8 kWh (998 MWh). The estimated annual energy yield produced by the photovoltaic micro-installation is 37,000 kWh (approx. 37 MWh), which means an approximately 3.7 % reduction in grid electricity consumption. UG intends to continue developing this type of installation in other university buildings. The use of photovoltaic panels at the University of Gdańsk for electricity production will reduce CO2 emissions (the completed investment will have the environmental effect of cutting CO2 emissions by 26.6 Mg/year). In the following years, the realisation of the indicator will be monitored. With the construction of further installations, the university’s positive impact on the environment will increase,’ reads the report.
The task was co-financed by the Provincial Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Gdańsk.
The unified reporting system for the realisation of sustainable development goals at the University of Gdańsk (Organisational Governance category)
The introduction of a reporting system for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at UG by the Centre for Sustainable Development has made it possible to improve how the application of the SDGs is monitored and reported across all organisational units of the university.
‘The Centre for Sustainable Development has designed an IT system to bring together the SDG initiatives undertaken in the various units of the university and to standardise how the obtained results are reported and presented to internal stakeholders and the university’s environment. The system allows all organisational units of the university access to a unified set of questions on activities and achievements in the area of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Implementing the system serves to raise awareness of the SDGs among representatives of the academic community. The collected responses provide evidence of the university’s contribution to protecting the environment and improving working and studying conditions at UG in line with the UN goals communicated in Agenda 2030,’ - reads the practice description.
The IT monitoring and reporting system for the SDGs at UG has been implemented in all university units. The system’s operation is carried out with the support of coordinators who collect information in individual units and then enter it into a database. This way, information is obtained from more than 3,000 research, teaching and administrative staff employed at the university.
‘Pioneers, researchers, leaders. Women of Gdańsk Science’ project (Social Factors category)
As part of the project, an exhibition was organised jointly with the Gdańsk Museum entitled ‘Pioneers, Researchers, Leaders. Women of Gdańsk science’. The exhibition was accompanied by debates on ‘Diverse and Equal. Women in Science’. These dealt with issues such as breaking down boundaries and stereotypes, women as candidates for the position of rector or the difficulties of young female researchers in scientific life.
‘A subpage on the UG website ‘Women in Science. Elisabeth Koopman-Heweliusz page'. The page contains articles, public statements and information about women in important management positions at UG, the most distinguished late female researchers and outstanding female researchers currently working at UG. In addition, 30 biographies of female researchers (professors) employed at UG have been entered into Gedanopedia,’ reads the practice description.
Both initiatives were implemented as part of the MINDtheGEPs Modifying Institutions by Developing Gender Equality Plans project funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme and are integrated in the activities of the UG Gender Equality Plan for 2022-2023.
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