Advertisement

Sustainability Reporting in Higher Education Institutions: What, Why, and How

  • Naif AlghamdiEmail author
Chapter
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)

Abstract

The main purpose of this research is to address three important questions concerning sustainability reporting in universities: what to report, why reporting is necessary, and how reporting should be carried out. A desk study method was used to systematically review key peer-reviewed scientific articles as well as sustainability reports of higher education institutions. The paper discusses theoretical and empirical research of sustainability reporting in the higher education sector. The paper shows that there is a focus on the widely used criteria of sustainability, which are in line with the literature. The study also illustrates how universities can report their sustainability advancement through highlighting the type of data collected, process of preparing the report, the parties involved, and channels where reports can be submitted to. Ultimately, this paper seeks to justify the significance of such reporting and why all higher education institutions should develop and regularly review the reporting of their sustainability performance. The added value of this research is that higher education institutions, particularly those at the early stages of assessing, documenting, and reporting sustainability practices, can be greatly assisted.

Keywords

Sustainability Higher education Sustainability reporting Universities 

References

  1. AASHE (2019) The association for the advancement of sustainability in higher education: why participate. Available at: https://stars.aashe.org/about-stars/why-participate/. Accessed 19 Jan 2019
  2. Adams CA (2013) Sustainability reporting and performance management in universities. Chall Benef Sustain Acc Manage Policy J 4(3):384–392Google Scholar
  3. Ahmed J, Crowther D (2013) Education and corporate social responsibility: international perspectives. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, UKGoogle Scholar
  4. Alghamdi N (2018) University campuses in Saudi Arabia: sustainability challenges and potential solutions. Doctoral dissertation, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  5. Alghamdi N, Den Heijer A, De Jonge H (2017) Assessment tools’ indicators for sustainability in universities: an analytical overview. Int J Sustain Higher Educ 18(1):84–115Google Scholar
  6. Alonso-Almeida MDM, Marimon F, Casani F, Rodriguez-Pomeda J (2015) Diffusion of sustainability reporting in universities: current situation and future perspectives. J Clean Prod 106:144–154Google Scholar
  7. Alshuwaikhat HM, Abubakar I (2008) An integrated approach to achieving campus sustainability: assessment of the current campus environmental management practices. J Clean Prod 16(16):1777–1785Google Scholar
  8. AUA (2019) Alternative university appraisal model for ESD in higher education institutions. Available at http://sustain.oia.hokudai.ac.jp/aua/. Accessed 19 Jan 2019
  9. Bekessy SA, Samson K, Clarkson RE (2007) The failure of non-binding declarations to achieve university sustainability: a need for accountability. Int J Sustain Higher Educ 8(3):301–316Google Scholar
  10. Ceulemans K, Molderez I, Van Liedekerke L (2015) Sustainability reporting in higher education: a comprehensive review of the recent literature and paths for further research. J Clean Prod 106(Special Issue):127–143Google Scholar
  11. Chau KW (2007) Incorporation of sustainability concepts into a civil engineering curriculum. J Prof Issues Eng Educ Pract 133(3):188–191Google Scholar
  12. Cole L (2003) Assessing sustainability on Canadian university campuses: development of a campus sustainability assessment framework. M. A. Environment and Management, Royal Roads University, Victoria, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  13. Cortese A (2003) The critical role of higher education in creating a sustainable future. Plan Higher Educ 31(3):15–22Google Scholar
  14. Dalal-Clayton B, Bass S (2002) Sustainable development strategies, 1st edn. Earthscan Publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Davis SA, Edmister JH, Sullivan K, West CK (2003) Educating sustainable societies for the twenty-first century. Int J Sustain Higher Educ 4(2):169–179Google Scholar
  16. Flint RW (2010) Symbolism of sustainability: means of operationalizing the concept. Synesis J Sci Technol Eth Policy 01(01):25–37Google Scholar
  17. Fonseca A, Macdonald A, Dandy E, Valenti P (2011) The state of sustainability reporting at Canadian universities. Int J Sustain Higher Educ 12(1):22–40Google Scholar
  18. GM (2019) UI’s Green Metric University sustainability ranking. Available at http://greenmetric.ui.ac.id/. Accessed 20 Jan 2019
  19. Gómez F, Sáez-Navarrete C, Lioi S, Marzuca V (2015) Adaptable model for assessing sustainability in higher education. J Clean Prod 107:475–485Google Scholar
  20. GRI (2007) Reports database. Available at: http://www.globalreporting.org/ReportsDatabase/. Accessed 11 Jan 2019
  21. GRI (2019) Global report initiative: benefits of reporting. Available at https://www.globalreporting.org/information/sustainability-reporting/Pages/reporting-benefits.aspx. Accessed 23 Jan 2019
  22. GRI Guidelines (2019) G4 sustainability reporting guidelines. Available at https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/grig4-part1-reporting-principles-and-standard-disclosures.pdf. Accessed 23 Feb 2019
  23. Guidry R, Patten D (2010) Market reactions to the first-time issuance of corporate sustainability reports: evidence that quality matters. Sustain Acc Manage Policy J 1(1):33–50Google Scholar
  24. Hamann R (2003) Mining companies’ role in sustainable development: the ’why’ and ’how’ of corporate social responsibility from a business perspective. Dev South Afr 20(2):234–254Google Scholar
  25. Huber S, Bassen A (2018) Towards a sustainability reporting guideline in higher education. Int J Sustain Higher Educ 19(2):218–232Google Scholar
  26. ISO (2019) ISO 14000 family—environmental management. Available at https://www.iso.org/iso-14001-environmental-management.html. Accessed 26 Jan 2019
  27. Kamal A, Asmuss M (2013) Benchmarking tools for assessing and tracking sustainability in higher education institutions: identifying an effective tool for University of Saskatchewan. Int J Sustain Higher Educ 14(4):449–465Google Scholar
  28. KPMG (2013) International survey of corporate responsibility reporting 2013. Available at www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/corporate-responsibility/Documents/corporateresponsibility-reporting-survey-2013-exec-summary.pdf. Accessed 10 Mar 2019
  29. Lopatta K, Jaeschke R (2014) Sustainability reporting at German and Austrian universities. Int J Educ Econ Dev 5(1):66–90Google Scholar
  30. Lozano R (2006a) A tool for a graphical assessment of sustainability in universities (GASU). J Clean Prod 14(9/11):963–972Google Scholar
  31. Lozano R (2006b) Incorporation and institutionalization of SD into universities: breaking through barriers to change. J Clean Prod 14:787–796Google Scholar
  32. Lozano R (2011) The state of sustainability reporting in universities. Int J Sustain High Educ 12(1):67–78Google Scholar
  33. Lozano R (2013) Sustainability inter-linkages in reporting vindicated: a study of European companies. J Clean Prod 51:57–65Google Scholar
  34. Lozano R, Huisingh D (2011) Inter-linking issues and dimensions in sustainability reporting. J Clean Prod 19(4):99–107Google Scholar
  35. Lozano R, Lukman R, Lozano F, Huisingh D, Lambrechts W (2013) Declarations for sustainability in higher education: becoming better leaders, through addressing the university system. J Clean Prod 48:10–19Google Scholar
  36. Oxford Dictionary (2019) Report. Available at https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/report. Accessed 1 Jan 2019
  37. Perrini F, Tencati A (2006) Sustainability and stakeholder management: the need for new corporate performance evaluation and reporting systems. Bus Strateg Environ 15:296–308Google Scholar
  38. PSPE (2019) The platform for sustainability performance in education: sustainable campus assessment system. Available at https://www.osc.hokudai.ac.jp/en/action/assc. Accessed 20 Feb 2019
  39. Richardson AJ, Kachler MD (2016) University sustainability reporting: a review of the literature and development of a model. In: Handbook of sustainability in management education. Available at: http://scholar.uwindsor.ca/odettepub/101. Accessed 11 Jan 2019
  40. Roorda N (2002) Assessment and policy development of sustainability in higher education with AISHE. In: Fillo WL (ed) Teaching sustainability at universities: towards curriculum greening. Peter Lang, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  41. Saadatian O, Salleh E (2011) Identifying strength and weakness of sustainable higher educational assessment approaches. Int J Bus Soc Sci 2(3):137–146Google Scholar
  42. Sassen R, Azizi L (2018) Assessing sustainability reports of US universities. Int J Sustain Higher Educ 19(7):1158–1184Google Scholar
  43. Sassen R, Dienes D, Beth C (2014) Nachhaltigkeitsberichterstattung deutscher Hochschulen (Sustainability reporting of German higher education institutions). Zeitschrift Für Umweltpolitik & Umweltrecht (J Environ Policy Environ Law) 37(3):258–277Google Scholar
  44. Sassen R, Dienes D, Wedemeier J (2015) Sustainability reporting of British higher education institutions. Working paper, University of HamburgGoogle Scholar
  45. Sharp L, Shea C (2012) Institutionalising sustainability: achieving transformation from inside. In: Martin J, Samels J (eds) The sustainable university: green goals and new challenges for higher education leaders. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, pp 63–82Google Scholar
  46. Shriberg M (2002) Institutional assessment tools for sustainability in higher education: strengths, weaknesses, and implications for practice and theory. Int J Sustain Higher Educ 3(3):254–270Google Scholar
  47. STARS (2019) Sustainability tracking, assessment, and rating system. Available at https://stars.aashe.org/. Accessed 26 Jan 2019
  48. Thijssens T, Bollen L, Hassink H (2016) Managing sustainability reporting: many ways to publish exemplary reports. J Clean Prod 136:86–101Google Scholar
  49. Thomashow M (2014) The nine elements of a sustainable campus. MIT Press, Cambridge, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  50. Travis D (2016) Desk research: the what, why and how. Available at https://www.userfocus.co.uk/articles/desk-research-the-what-why-and-how.html. Accessed 4 Mar 2019
  51. ULSF (2019) University leaders for a sustainable future—sustainability assessment questionnaire for colleges and universities (SAQ). Available at http://ulsf.org/sustainability-assessment-questionnaire/. Accessed 11 Jan 2019
  52. United Nations (1987) Towards sustainable development. From A/42/427—our common future: report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Available at http://www.un-documents.net/ocf-02.htm. Accessed 1 Jan 2019
  53. Velazques L, Munguia N, Platt A, Taddei J (2006) Sustainable university: what can be the matter? J Clear Prod 14(9/11):810–819Google Scholar
  54. Waas T, Hugé J, Ceulemans K, Lambrechts W, Vandenabeele J, Lozano R, Wright T (2012) Sustainable higher education: understanding and moving forward. Flemish Government—Environment, Nature and Energy Department, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  55. Waterman RH, Peters TJ, Philips JR (1980) Structure is not organisation. Bus Horiz 23:14–26Google Scholar
  56. Yanez S, Uruburu A, Moreno A, Lumbreras J (2018) The sustainability report as an essential tool for the holistic and strategic vision of higher education institutions. J Clean Prod 207:57–66Google Scholar
  57. Zorio-Grima A, Sierra-García L, Garcia-Benau M (2018) Sustainability reporting experience by universities: a causal configuration approach. Int J Sustain Higher Educ 19(2):337–352Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Architecture and Building Science (DABS), College of Architecture and Planning (CAP)King Saud University (KSU)RiyadhSaudi Arabia

Personalised recommendations