Guest article: 'What we are doing on sustainability this year'
The Students' Union at UWE share what they have been doing on sustainability so far this academic year.
The Students' Union at UWE are embedding an intersectional approach in our sustainability work this year. During Welcome 2020, Joey, our Vice President Community and Welfare, and Sustainability Lead took a lead on this. He discussed what Intersectional Environmentalism means and why it's important in this short video. We have continued our work on this by holding a Climate Justice panel talk, in collaboration with our year-long campaign Celebrating Black Excellence. This was chaired by Jane, our Vice President Education. It amplified the voices of BAME students, staff and alumni. Feedback from one attendee said: 'Really glad to see a diverse range of voices for the event - has much more impact than a non-diverse group'. To empower our students with knowledge about intersectionality, we also commissioned Minds of POC to run an Environmental Racism training session with our sustainability committee, part-time officers and full-time Presidents.
Another area we are focussed on is climate anxiety. During Green Week we held our first climate anxiety cafe, in collaboration with the University. This was a relaxed and friendly virtual space for students to discuss their feelings and share their concerns. One student reflected that the session was a 'nice chilled space to chat!'. This is something we are looking to expand and continue on a regular basis for students and staff in semester 2.
In November, we've had the opportunity to share the sustainability work happening at The Students' Union at UWE. At the SOS-UK Student Sustainability Summit, we gave a short talk about the role of our student in UWE declaring a climate emergency and committing to being carbon neutral by 2030. Alongside colleagues from The Students' Union commercial team, and UWE academics, we presented workshops at the EAUC conference. The first about our campus zero waste shop, and the second a review of our Responsible Futures accreditation.
Reflections and learning on the Green Impact workshop
We were delighted to attend the support day for the GISU cohort this year, it is always really inspiring the meet with other colleagues working on improving the sustainability performance of their SU and engaging their members in sustainability projects and behaviour change initiatives. We particularly enjoyed revisiting key monitoring and evaluation principles, focusing us to design our evaluation from the beginning and making sure we collect data that is useful and relevant, and proportionate to the activity you are running!