Successful start to the Sustainability Leadership Development Programme

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Last month saw the first group of participants complete the Sustainability Leadership Development Programme (SLDP), which has been developed and delivered by the Centre for Sustainable Practice and Living (a joint venture by SEPA and the University of Stirling’s Management School) and the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainable Leadership. Here we take a closer look at what was involved.

Increasing pressures on scarce resources, as well as the social, economic and climatic problems that we face, all have significant implications for businesses. The Sustainability Leadership Development Programme aims to help participants to identify key, and often invisible, risks and opportunities for their company stakeholders, and to reap the rewards of embedding sustainability in the core of their organisation.

Held over two, two-day sessions, the programme challenged, developed and educated a group of public and private sector leaders, decision-makers and sustainability practitioners from across Scotland. But most importantly, it brought together people with the power to make meaningful changes in Scotland in order to foster collaborative thinking.

During the programme, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Practice and Living, Erik MacEachern, highlighted that: “Scotland has a unique opportunity to pioneer transformational partnership working for sustainable development; it’s small enough that you can get key players in the same room and talking to each other, yet large enough to make waves on the international stage.”

Delegates benefitted from a mix of engaging and challenging insights from collective intelligence gathering and expert guest speakers, and were guided through problem solving exercises to reveal priority areas to focus on. In between sessions, regular coffee breaks and evening dinner events provided an outlet for joining the dots and the further sharing of ideas and ambitions.

Responding to insights from the first module on the need for greater communication of sustainability successes in Scotland, three delegates – Martin Grey (Viridor), Martin Valenti (SEPA) and Alban Denton (Loch Duart), collaborated in contributing to a special report in the Herald Scotland on recent achievements in the salmon, waste and environmental regulation sectors.

The programme has so far been an overwhelming success, with many positive comments being received from participants. Martin Grey, Head of Media & Public Affairs at Viridor said: “Seeing the level of leadership on this programme shows that Scotland is best placed to make a sustainable economy work for all.” While Peter Murphy, Founding Director at UK Water Ltd said: “Challenging our views with thought-provoking ideas that I haven’t heard anywhere else before.”

The programme has also been recognised by the MSP for Stirling, Bruce Crawford, who tabled a motion for the Scottish Parliament to note its recent success, along with that of SEPA’s ambitions to foster sustainable business growth in Scotland through our new One Planet Prosperity regulatory strategy.

While further collaborations are under way and the best is yet to emerge, a SLDP alumni group has been set up, aiming to support on-going knowledge sharing, collaboration and ideas testing. With a reserve list already emerging for the next programme, the next group to join the alumni will go through the programme in February 2017.

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