The failure of non‐binding declarations to achieve university sustainability A need for accountability

The failure of non‐binding declarations to achieve university sustainability A need for... Purpose – This paper aims to assess the impact and value of non‐binding agreements or declarations in achieving sustainability in universities. Design/methodology/approach – A case study of Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University is presented, analysing the reasons for lack of progress towards sustainability and evaluating best ways forward. Using a timeline and analysis of historical records for the 12 years since RMIT first engaged in the sustainability agenda, major trends in the process of implementing policies are identified. Secondly, 15 semi‐structured interviews with university leaders and key sustainability stakeholders from across the university are analysed to provide insight into how and why the university has failed to achieve sustainability. Findings – New implications for successfully achieving sustainability arise from these findings. Accountability is a key issue, as RMIT appears to reap benefits from being signatory to declarations without achieving genuine progress. To ensure that declarations are more than simply greenwash, universities must open themselves up to scrutiny of progress to determine whether commitments have been honoured. Practical implications – Relying on small‐scale “club” activities establishing demonstrations and raising awareness is unlikely to lead to permanent change. The evidence of RMIT's engagement with sustainability shows that, for example, even when successful pilot studies are conducted, these initiatives may do little to affect the mainstream practices of a university unless certain conditions exist. Furthermore, given the on‐paper commitments institutions have made, and the role of the university in society, small‐scale and gradual changes in university practice are a far from adequate response to the urgent sustainability imperative. Originality/value – The initial engagement of RMIT University with the sustainability agenda 12 years ago marked it as a world leader in sustainability best‐practice. Analysing how and why such a disappointing lack of action has resulted from such promising beginnings provides insight into future directions for implementing sustainability in universities. The paper argues that considering the key responsibility of universities in leading the sustainability agenda, a more systemic and serious response is required. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education Emerald Publishing

The failure of non‐binding declarations to achieve university sustainability A need for accountability

Loading next page...
 
/lp/emerald-publishing/the-failure-of-non-binding-declarations-to-achieve-university-stmCjzVCn1
Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1467-6370
DOI
10.1108/14676370710817165
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to assess the impact and value of non‐binding agreements or declarations in achieving sustainability in universities. Design/methodology/approach – A case study of Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University is presented, analysing the reasons for lack of progress towards sustainability and evaluating best ways forward. Using a timeline and analysis of historical records for the 12 years since RMIT first engaged in the sustainability agenda, major trends in the process of implementing policies are identified. Secondly, 15 semi‐structured interviews with university leaders and key sustainability stakeholders from across the university are analysed to provide insight into how and why the university has failed to achieve sustainability. Findings – New implications for successfully achieving sustainability arise from these findings. Accountability is a key issue, as RMIT appears to reap benefits from being signatory to declarations without achieving genuine progress. To ensure that declarations are more than simply greenwash, universities must open themselves up to scrutiny of progress to determine whether commitments have been honoured. Practical implications – Relying on small‐scale “club” activities establishing demonstrations and raising awareness is unlikely to lead to permanent change. The evidence of RMIT's engagement with sustainability shows that, for example, even when successful pilot studies are conducted, these initiatives may do little to affect the mainstream practices of a university unless certain conditions exist. Furthermore, given the on‐paper commitments institutions have made, and the role of the university in society, small‐scale and gradual changes in university practice are a far from adequate response to the urgent sustainability imperative. Originality/value – The initial engagement of RMIT University with the sustainability agenda 12 years ago marked it as a world leader in sustainability best‐practice. Analysing how and why such a disappointing lack of action has resulted from such promising beginnings provides insight into future directions for implementing sustainability in universities. The paper argues that considering the key responsibility of universities in leading the sustainability agenda, a more systemic and serious response is required.

Journal

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher EducationEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 17, 2007

Keywords: Agreements; Universities; Organizational change; Sustainable design; Australia

References

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create folders to
organize your research

Export folders, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off