Westminster Higher Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +044 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.

HEIs and net zero - the curriculum, collaboration, and sustainable estates and practices

Morning, Thursday, 22nd October 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on improving the sustainability of UK universities, their estates and operations.

It takes place against the backdrop of the Government’s policy drive to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and significant initiatives within the sector itself.

Delegates will examine priorities, next steps and best practice for universities  - including how challenges are being met and unresolved issues.

They will also consider the way forward for maximising the sector’s contribution to UK leadership in climate change research and innovation.

The conference agenda looks at:

  • Strategies and targets for leaders in UK higher and further education - and collaboration between HEI departments and with other sectors;
  • Designing and delivering sustainable campuses - including adoption of  environmentally sustainable procurement, operations and investment;
  • Climate change in the HE curriculum and research programmes; and
  • The role of major funders in supporting transformation.

Why this is relevant now - the context:

It takes place:

  • As the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Leaders - backed by the AoC, EAUC, GuildHE and UUK- formulates its strategic framework for the sector and sets targets for higher education’s contribution to meeting net-zero targets, with:
    • Professor James Longhurst, EAUC Commissioner and Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability, University of West England as a keynote speaker at this conference.
  • With Government’s Industrial Strategy highlighting the role that universities can play in driving the innovation needed for clean growth and tackling climate change; and
  • With the UK Climate Resilience Programme, launched collaboratively by UKRI and the Met Office offering £18.6m in funding for climate research in order to initiate research in multi- and inter-disciplinary climate risk and adaption research.

The discussion in detail:

Delegates will share latest thinking on:

  • Sustainability in the curriculum:
    • How teaching on sustainability can be embedded in subject curricula across all university courses; and
    • Strategies for ensuring that students leave university with an effective understanding of climate change and the transferable skills to adjust to the requirements of new jobs and ways of working that are likely to emanate from the transition to net zero and beyond;
  • Collaboration, between:
    • University departments - approaches to effective collaboration and addressing any barriers so as to support greater levels of interdisciplinary research in climate-related fields;
    • Funders and HEIs to ensure that net zero targets and environmental sustainability are embedded in research;
    • HEIs and  industry to maximise their utilisation of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund; and
    • The OfS and universities, and the future role of the OfS in collecting data on emissions and the impact on HEIs, student attitudes and expectations towards universities climate response;
  • Sustainable campuses and procedures:
    • Increasing the sustainability of estates, including the cutting of Scope 1 emissions outlined in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, reducing the whole-life carbon impact of estates;
    • Latest thinking on the design of campus buildings;
    • The development by universities of climate change adaptation plans (CCAPs);
    • How institutions can respond to growing calls to reduce their Scope 3 emissions following the publication of the Green Finance Strategy;
    • Routes to divestment from fossil fuels, with recently published data by the NUS indicating the over 50% of UK Universities have committed to move from fossil fuels in the near future; and
    • Procurement practices by HEIs to contribute to sustainability goals and the development of more sustainable supply chains.

The agenda:

  • Key findings of the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Leaders;
  • Embedding climate change into the HE curriculum, promoting climate research, and facilitating collaboration between departments and with other sectors;
  • Divestment from fossil fuels and adopting environmentally sustainable procurement and investment;
  • Designing and delivering sustainable campuses - existing estates, new developments, and creating a whole university approach; and
  • Supporting transformation of the research system to deliver net-zero - Funder’s Perspective.

Policy officials attending

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stake holders.

This one looks no different. Places have been reserved by officials from Defra and the Cabinet Office.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Rob Gillies

Associate Director Environmental Sustainability, UK Research & Innovation

Professor James Longhurst

EAUC Commissioner and Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability, University of West England


Quinn Runkle

Director of Education, Students Organising for Sustainability UK

Professor Mark Ormerod

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise and Professor of Clean Technology, School of Chemistry and Physics, Keele University

Alexandra Hammond

Director, Sustainability, Essentia Trading Limited

Dr Matt Watson

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, The University of Sheffield

Professor Pete Walker

Climate Action Framework Leader, University of Bath

Professor Judith Petts

UUK Climate Commissioner and Vice Chancellor, University of Plymouth

Harriet Waters

Head of Environmental Sustainability, University of Oxford

Alasdair Young

Partner, Cities Energy, Buro Happold