Introduction

Since taking on the responsibility of senior sustainability officer in September 2024, the Registrar and Director of Student Operations has been representing ESG on the Academy’s Senior Management Team.

In the absence of a formal compliance framework which covers the higher education or charity sectors, we are undertaking this work for the purposes of legitimacy and being a force for good, alongside our provision of outstanding education and training in music and promoting creativity and innovation. The Academy is in a strong position as far as the social and governance aspects of ESG are concerned in terms of our employee policy frameworks, commitment to workforce wellbeing and our effective and transparent governance and decision-making structure. There are however a significant number of opportunities for the Academy to improve its credentials from an environmental and sustainability perspective.

From the social perspective, our Human Resources processes recognise, acknowledge and are compliant with a range of initiatives, directives and good practice frameworks that support fairness, rights and staff wellbeing.

Similarly, our Governance structure, whereby we are held accountable for all of our operations and decision-making by our Governing Body and specifically on ESG matters by our Audit Committee, places us in a strong position owing to its longstanding transparency and effective oversight.

Responsibility for ESG

The Governing Body holds senior responsibility for ESG and oversight is delegated to the Audit Committee. Strategic responsibility rests with the ESG lead on behalf of the Senior Management Team and operational responsibilities with the ESG Committee and other teams such as Estates, as appropriate.

ESG Committee

The existing Environmental Committee (Sostenuto) was relaunched as the ESG Committee in March 2024. Members who elected to remain on the committee under its new mandate have committed time each term to committee work and sustainability initiatives.

The Student Union President is a member of the ESG Committee. A call out for new members in May 2024 was successful and has resulted in representation from members of the Academic Studies, Research and Junior Academy teams.

ESG Budget

The Senior Management Team approved an annual central budget for staff and student engagement towards ESG in April 2024. The capital spend on fixed assets to improve sustainability is delegated to budgets in departments such as Estates and IT.

Strategy Development

We are still very much in the discovery phase in relation to ESG and therefore development of the Academy’s strategy will benefit from further time to delve into information such as our carbon footprint report and metrics.

The strategy development plan will therefore be as follows:

  1. Assessment of current state

    The ESG Committee will continue to interrogate current practice, progress and relevant metrics to assess the gap between our current position and examples of good practice from across the sector. We will benchmark against similar institutions and work out where opportunities for progress lie, with reference to our agreed external benchmarks.
    We will develop a closer dialogue with People and Planet, who are keen to work in partnership with organisations on short-, medium- and longer-term projects.
  2. Defining reporting and data collection

    We cannot set meaningful targets until we have researched and agreed a reliable, robust and consistent approach to data collection in areas such as waste reduction and emissions monitoring. We must establish a baseline and an agreed set of metrics and will aim to have this in place by September 2024.

    A Carbon Footprint Report and Gap Analysis was commissioned by the Estates Team in September 2023 and which identified areas where we are missing primary data, for example in respect of use of transport for Business Travel.

    The ESG Committee will further consider this with a view to collecting relevant data to inform progress and comparisons in the coming years.
  3. Strategy Development

    We anticipate that the first iteration of the ESG Strategy will be ready by the start of the 2024/25 academic year. It will have a one-year lifespan in acknowledgement that we are likely to review and adjust it so that it remains current and continues to reflect our objectives and meet our needs.

Policy Frameworks

Our environmental and sustainability policies will be reviewed to inform future decision-making in relation to ESG and will be reviewed once the Strategy is in place. For now the existing environmental, biodiversity and utilities policies have been reviewed and updated to reflect the shift in gear and scaling up of work on ESG.

In May 2024 the ESG Committee approved and published the first Environmental Policy.

Ethical Investment

The current Ethical Investment policy is dated March 2023 and sets out our aims in this regard. We have been commended by People and Planet for the transparency of our publicly available financial information, however it is also noted that our policy contains no specific ethical investment commitments (such as screening out of certain categories of company). The ESG Committee will review this with People and Planet in the latter part of 2024.

Staff and Student Engagement and Participation

From September 2024, a session on the Academy’s Sustainability strategy and engagement will be included in enrolment week and the online Climate Change training module will be made available to students. The SU President, who will continue her term for a second year, is setting up a student union-led sustainability society. If these prove successful the committee will give consideration to funding a student Sustainability Rep within the Student Union.

A number of initiatives and activities have taken place in 2023/24 to raise awareness of environmental matters, to increase staff and student engagement in sustainability and to celebrate nature. This includes an ESG-themed staff quiz, and institution-wide engagement comprising workshops, training and varied activities as part of the Great Big Green Week. Global Justice Now ran an introductory workshop for staff and students on climate justice in June 2024.

The ESG Committee members have all completed the Academy’s online training module on climate change and sustainability. This will be rolled out to all staff from June 2024. We now include a sustainability policy briefing as part of new staff induction and onboarding.

Sustainability in the curriculum

Dr Jennifer Sheppard has created a new 10-credit BMus elective ‘Music and the Environment’ which will be available for the 2024/25 academic year. The elective will develop students’ understanding of and engagement with music in relation with the environment. Students will engage with music and case studies that relate to different historical and geographical locations, and that incorporate a variety of practices and approaches to music and environment. Topics will include sound studies and ecology; music, sustainability and awareness. The assessment for the module will involve the design and delivery of a music/environment project such as a soundwalk; music and environment installation; performance event; composition; or podcast.

Environmental and sustainability policy

This Environment and Sustainability Policy sets out our commitment and objectives across key areas to ensure an Academy-wide approach.

Read the policy in full below: