I’m Clem, your outgoing Students’ Union President. As part of my job I oversee the Union’s democratic structure, and last week you had your opportunity to vote on whether the Students’ Union should adopt a proposed, new constitution arising from our Democracy Review this year. A majority of voters voted in favour of adopting the new constitution, and I’ll be working with your incoming Sabbatical Officers in July to begin to setup this new, re-energised and engaging democratic structure once it has had final confirmation from our Trustee Board at the end of June and the College’s governing body (known as College Council) in July, before final approval is sought from the Charity Commission in August.
Another part of my job is being an ex officio member of College Council, the body responsible for the governance and management of the College. I consider a vital part of this responsibility to be ensuring that our College is sustainable and acting responsibly with regards to environmental, social and corporate governance (known as ESG), and as such have been working with other members of the Council to review the College’s Ethical Investment Policy this year. The day-to-day management of the College’s endowment investments are delegated to a number of Investment Managers on terms agreed with the College’s Investment Sub-Committee (ISC), and within the new Statement of Investment Policy that the College is in the process of adopting, the ISC is committing to set targets in the following three areas by the end of 2019:
- Reduction of future emissions
- Reducing exposure to carbon intensive companies
- Making investments in sustainability-themed investments, for example, climate change mitigation, low carbon technology, social housing, sustainable infrastructure and energy efficiency.
Moving forward, the ISC will perform a bi-annual analysis of the endowment’s carbon footprint and monitor progress towards the targets once they are confirmed. I don’t think it can be understated how much of a move for Royal Holloway this is. Having a Statement of Investment Principles that states that we ‘recognise that long-term sustainability issues, particularly climate change, present risks and opportunities that increasingly require explicit consideration’ is something that the College has not had before, and I believe that it is imperative that as an institution we embed sustainable operation and sustainability education within our next Strategic Plan as it is formulated over the coming year.
Royal Holloway Students’ Union