As one of the world’s top technology and natural science universities, with over 18,500 students from more than 110 countries, ETH Zurich tries to make sure that sustainability is firmly embedded into campus life and teaching, and to familiarize students and staff with sustainable development issues.
This case study is based on the 2013-2014 Sustainability Report by ETH Zurich published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying an organization’s or company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing.
Committed to providing students and staff with skills and opportunities to approach and effectively address complex sustainable development issues, ETH Zurich has made sustainability a central priority. Tweet This! In order to cultivate sustainability-related competencies in students and staff ETH Zurich took action to:
- integrate sustainability across departments and degree programs
- encourage students and staff to learn about sustainability through innovative activities and events
- offer summer and winter schools on sustainability
- bring faculty and students working on sustainability-related theses into contact with private and public sector partners
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With this case study you will see:
- Which are the most important impacts (material issues) ETH Zurich has identified;
- How ETH Zurich proceeded with stakeholder engagement, and
- What actions were taken by ETH Zurich to cultivate sustainability-related competencies in students and staff
What are the material issues the organization has identified?
In its 2013-2014 Sustainability Report ETH Zurich identified a range of material issues, such as quality of research, knowledge transfer, talent attraction and retention, diversity, recycling and waste, personnel development, sustainable catering. Among these, cultivating sustainability-related competencies in students and staff stands out as a key material issue for ETH Zurich.
Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:
Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.
Key stakeholder groups ETH Zurich engages with:
|Vice Presidency for Research and Corporate Relations|
|Funding agencies and organizations (Swiss National Science Foundation, Commission for Technology and Innovation, European Union etc.)|
|Directors of Study|
|Vice Presidency for Human Resources and Infrastructure|
|Local neighborhoods of ETH Zurich at Campus Zentrum and Campus Hönggerberg|
|Local neighborhood to ETH Zurich in other locations in Switzerland and abroad|
|ETH Zurich Executive Board and Associate Vice Presidents|
|Administrative and technical staff|
|Vice Presidency for Finance and Controlling|
|Finance and Controlling|
|Other third-party funding|
|Alumni of ETH Zurich|
How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues
To capture stakeholder perspectives on ETH Zurich’s material issues and explore stakeholders’ expectations, interviews with 21 representatives of stakeholder groups were conducted.
In its 2013-2014 Sustainability Report ETH Zurich reports that it took the following actions for cultivating sustainability-related competencies in students and staff:
- Integrating sustainability across departments and degree programs
- ETH Zurich’s commitment to sustainability encompasses a number of courses and programs, such as the Department of Environmental System Sciences’ education programs, promoting sustainable development for more than 25 years.
- Encouraging students and staff to learn about sustainability through innovative activities and events
- Students and staff at ETH Zurich have the opportunity to better understand sustainable development issues through various activities and events, including the following:
- The event series “Pioneers in Sustainability”, launched in 2013, offers students an opportunity to learn how to combine professional success with a commitment to sustainability.
- The Energy Efficiency Challenge, in 2014, brought together more than 400 members of the ETH community, to suggest actions for improving energy efficiency at ETH Zurich.
- Offering summer and winter schools on sustainability
- ETH Zurich offers a number of summer and winter schools on sustainability topics, such as the ETH Sustainability Summer School, the World Food System Center’s three summer schools and the winter school of the Competence Center Environment and Sustainability (CCES).
- Bringing faculty and students working on sustainability-related theses into contact with private and public sector partners
- ETH Seed Sustainability is a project platform within which faculty and students working on sustainability-related theses are able to come into contact with partners from the private sector, public administration or other ETH Zurich units. In 2013 and 2014, 15 Bachelor’s and Master’s theses and one project thesis were written and finalized within ETH Seed Sustainability.
Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?
The GRI indicator addressed in this case is: G4-EC8: Significant indirect economic impacts, including the extent of impacts and the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 203-2 Significant indirect economic impacts
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1) This case study is based on published information by ETH Zurich, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:
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