Sustainability training for staff

“It doesn’t matter what Sweden does – after all, we’re such a small country.” This staff training provides discussion material that deals with some common sustainability challenges. The material can be used at workplace meetings, as a basis for discussion and departments’ or units’ own climate and sustainability goals.

As a staff member of Umeå University, you should contribute towards the climate and sustainability work carried out at your workplace. To engage and initiate discussions about this, employee training with a basis for discussion has been devised. The training has been adapted for use at workplace meetings.

Aim and objectives

The overall aim of the training is that staff and managers, together with their unit or department, should feel empowered to act and an active desire to contribute towards influencing and changing their operations – and thus those of the University – in a sustainable direction, and that the University's climate impact should thereby be reduced. According to its Environmental Policy, the University shall take a proactive approach and use innovative working methods to strive for a sustainable society and the goals of Agenda 2030 being met.

Find out more about Umeå University's sustainability work: Sustainability at Umeå University

Your responsibility as staff or manager

As a staff member, you are responsible for following Umeå University's vision and working towards the goals set by the University.
As a unit manager or a head of department, you are responsible for realising and concretising the University's vision and working to achieve the University's goals. You are also responsible for driving organisational development and change processes. Through delegation, you have a responsibility to ensure that you work systematically with statutory and other relevant environmental and sustainability issues.

The content of the training

The material has been created for use during workplace meetings or on a workplace planning day, and aims to provide input for further discussions. The training consists of four films and four table talkers with four different themes within areas where the University has the greatest negative climate impact, and thus has great potential.

Each training film is accompanied by questions that are suitable for discussion.

Overall sustainability work at Umeå University

The introductory section gives a brief overview of sustainable development as a concept and what it means for Umeå University.

Discussion questions on the theme:

• How is sustainable development concretised within your operations?
• What affects the environment and sustainable development the most within your operations?
• What can you do to reduce your environmental and climate impact, or to integrate more sustainability perspectives into your operations?
• Which sustainability targets can you set?

Campus and premises

A quarter of the University's climate impact comes from premises and energy consumption. Some elements are fixed, while others are variable. The campus and premises training describes how you can have an impact within this area. Optimising the use of premises and reducing our energy consumption makes a difference within the bigger picture.

Discussion questions on the theme:

• Which factors determine which premises you book?
• What can you do to reduce the climate impact from energy consumption?
• What can you do to optimise your use of premises?
• Which targets can you set?

Purchasing and procurement

Umeå University spends SEK 1 billion on goods every year. This generates almost a fifth of our emissions with an impact on the climate. As an employee, you can make a difference by making active choices.

Discussion questions on the theme:

• Within which areas do you make the largest purchases?
• What can you do to increase the proportion of environmental and sustainability requirements in your procurements and purchases?
• Which targets can you set yourself?

Travel and meetings

How can we think about travel-free meetings and climate-smart travel choices? A number of challenges are presented during the film. Do you agree about these challenges?
Discussion questions on the theme:

• What are the department's/unit's travel patterns?
• How can you contribute towards the University's target of reducing the climate impact of travel?
• What can you do to increase the use of digital meeting technologies?
• Which targets can you set?

Table talkers

There are four different table talkers. These deal with the same areas as the films, but each focuses on a different sustainability challenge with associated facts and questions to think about. The table talkers are ideal for use in break rooms or meeting rooms. 

The challenges that exist are:

• It doesn't matter what Sweden does – we're such a small country.
• I need a car to get to work because...
• If staff numbers increase, we will need more offices.
• If we impose environmental requirements on our suppliers, no one will be able to deliver to us.

To order table talkers, please contact Lisa Redin.
PDF versions that you can print out yourself are available here: Sustainability table talkers.

How to use the materials

Divide the training up into four workplace meetings. Allow about 25–30 minutes per session. The aim is for the training to increase knowledge and for you to be able to set concrete targets for the unit/department.

• Show one of the four films per meeting. The introductory film can ideally be shown first.
• Discuss the questions in small groups.
• Compile and concretise your results.
• Place the table talkers on the coffee table to keep the discussion going.
• Define your next step.

Next step

Think of this training as a starting point for your future work. The conclusions you reach in your discussions should also have an impact on your day-to-day activities. Keep the discussions about sustainable development going. How can sustainability work create activities in your operational planning? Set concrete targets that the unit should meet. Can you think of any activities that will encourage change? Together, we can make a difference to reduce the University's emissions.

introductory film

Campus and premises

Purchasing and procurement

Travel and meetings

Lisa Redin