THE ANNUAL People and Planet Green League, which ranks universities by their sustainability efforts, has been overshadowed by the news that 69 out of 151 institutions have chosen not to take part this year.
Just 83 universities provided data this year, down from 146 in the previous league. Organisers have accused the non-participants of an organised boycott.
People and Planet have gone on to accuse universities who have chosen to withdraw support for the league as trying to ‘wheedle their way out’ of transparent reporting because of underachievement.
A number of universities have expressed concern that the goal posts for reporting are constantly changing and criteria made impossible to prove, while others have pointed out that it’s a one-size fits all system that fails to take into account the diverse estates of any one university.
It’s an extension of the discussion Footprint had with members of the The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) at its Ethics in Education Forum in December.
At the event, it was highlighted that the burden placed on universities to become certified by so many organisations just to prove they were operating a sustainability policy was huge, and that the time needed to carry out the audits for each one – when a single audit might satisfy the needs of them all – was prohibitive for smaller institutions.
It is imperative that all caterers are scrutinised to ensure best practice but perhaps it is time that organisations such as People and Planet look at what they are asking universities to go, in the face of continuous budget cuts, and ask what they can do to help.