A new online course is inspiring top educational  establishments to deploy effective sustainability strategies, reveals Dr Roddy Yarr, Executive Lead Sustainability, University of Strathclyde 


THE University of Strathclyde is a leading international technological university.  A place of useful learning, and we are proud to be delivering technological and socially progressive solutions to global challenges, alongside our wide range of industry, public and academic partners.  

My role as Executive Lead Sustainability is to ensure that the operation of our assets across the west central belt responds positively to the climate challenge in terms of decarbonisation, climate resilience, sustainably and with a strong emphasis on social justice and a fair transition.  

All aligned with our own University Climate Change and Social Responsibility Plan and Scottish Government climate and sustainability policy.   

My work is hugely diverse in nature, and I work collaboratively across the University, but also across the city and region to identify, influence and deploy climate solutions and make change happen. 

I am already an experienced sustainability practitioner with more than 25 years’ experience in the implementation of sustainability solutions and climate action; however,

I was immediately attracted to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s (RSGS) Climate Solutions Professional course because it offers refreshing and informative course content. 

It has enabled me to update my understanding of current climate science and policy and engage with a group of peers across a range of sectors and to share insights on the need and urgency of climate action.  

Most importantly, the course has enabled me to reinforce my own climate work on behalf of the University, to think about how I should be approaching the climate issue in the work that I do and to think about how best to communicate climate and sustainability effectively.

I particularly valued the workshops where I could share ideas with colleagues and peers working in the same area and obtaining feedback. After the course content and the workshops, I have undertaken several elements of work to translate what I have learnt into meaningful action. 

I have taken that immediate knowledge from the course and used it to verify and secure constructive feedback on my vision and plan to create a series of ‘Climate Neutral Districts’ across all operational University assets. 

The Climate Neutral Districts vision adopts a whole systems approach that seeks to deliver 100% renewable heat, power, transport, adaptation and well-being solutions that are also socially inclusive. The work seeks to identify and understand the best engineering and socially inclusive climate solutions available to the University.  

The potential of these solutions has been framed within criteria of scale of investment emissions; reduction potential; community inclusion; commercial viability and deliverability.  

This vision and plan will enable the University to proactively respond to the need for climate action in a manner that not only delivers emissions reductions, but also seeks to enable climate resilience where possible and in a manner that is collaborative, innovative, bold, and ambitious, and importantly, people oriented. 

It also seeks to signpost net zero investments that stimulate a green recovery. In addition, I have encouraged academic and professional colleagues to take part in the training in order to build capacity across the University in this area.  
Several senior colleagues are now taking part in the course.

Thirdly, in a much wider application, I have used the findings from the course to work with colleagues at the University and to commence the roll out of Carbon Literacy training for all staff and students. 

It is important that we are all able to understand how to address and engage with the changing climate and to think about how we can take action. 

As a result, the whole University community is now offered climate training at several levels and this is so important given the nature of the climate emergency.

The Climate Solutions Professional course has given me new insight into practical application and capacity building.  

I would thoroughly recommend the course to people seeking to influence change in private and public organisations and groups.



Get an online introduction to solutions in sustainability

THE Herald is determined to play its full part in the climate change debate, having recently launched a pioneering new initiative in conjunction with Climate Solutions Network.

This unique online programme has been developed by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) in association with the Universities of Stirling and Edinburgh and the Institute of Directors (IoD).

Climate Solutions Accelerator provides a quick, simple and rounded introduction to the fundamentals of climate change, helping to explain how everyone and every organisation can play a vital role to reduce their emissions, and informing businesses and organisations so they can better plan and predict future trends, legislation, and change. 

It focuses on the need-to-know information and most importantly outlines the key solutions managers can implement to respond to climate change and is already being used by other forward-thinking major organisations.