Royal Holloway: Helping businesses embrace sustainability
Royal Holloway, University of London
Nov 10 | 4 minutes read
Sustainability and climate change are among the most pressing issues of the 21st century, with major implications for consumers, businesses, and governments worldwide. It’s a problem that affects all segments of society.
PwC aptly notes that sustainability and climate change are fast becoming the lens through which a business is judged by its consumers, workforce, society and its investors. “Acting responsibly is no longer a choice — it’s an imperative,” it said.
Echoing this is EY, which notes that organisations in this competitive business environment are under pressure to report on their financial performance and their non-financial performance. “Ignoring sustainability, environmental, health and safety (EHS) and climate change risks and stakeholder concerns around these issues is no longer an option,” it says.
Despite serving as pressing issues, there are risks and opportunities related to sustainability and climate change — both of which are important areas of research for Royal Holloway, University of London — which businesses can tap into.
The knowledge and resources to help businesses champion sustainability
Royal Holloway is a research-intensive university and among the top research-led universities in the UK. They welcome the opportunity to offer their skills and knowledge to companies and organisations, including as part of a structured partnership.
Royal Holloway works with government bodies, businesses, and charities — both nationally and internationally — generating new knowledge and understanding, and delivering innovative products, processes and services. The university’s research tackles real-world problems, and seeks creative solutions to complex challenges.
Living Sustainably is one of Royal Holloway’s four challenge-led research themes. It addresses the challenges of climate change, biodiversity, food and energy security, infectious disease, inequalities in education, work and participation, political polarisation and resource consumption.
Sustainability is also achieved under the university’s research theme, Transformative Digital Technologies, Security and Society, which aims to understand the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and digital technology in daily life, including how it can be used to support climate change.
Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Politics Dr. Liam F. Beiser-McGrath’s research, for instance, chiefly focuses on the political economy of climate change, using experimental research designs and machine learning (ML).
They note that many champion the importance of sustainability, but action in the area remains insufficient for tackling the problems facing society. “My work, therefore, redirects attention towards why there are political bottlenecks for achieving meaningful action,” they say.
“In topics such as climate communication, carbon taxes, air pollution, climate skepticism, and psychological backgrounds, my research provides answers to the key questions around whether sustainability can be achieved with the use of advanced experimental designs and ML.”
The Politics of the Environment and Climate Change (PECC Lab) — which Dr. Beiser-McGrath is the director of — is based in the Department of Politics, International Relations, and Philosophy at Royal Holloway and conducts academic research and outreach on the political dimensions of addressing environmental issues and climate change.
Through online seminars, policy briefs, and media engagement, the PECC Lab provides stakeholders with the latest research insights for understanding the challenges facing sustainability and possible solutions.
Dr. Beiser-McGrath’s research applies and extends methods used in consumer research to uncover consumers’ preferences, in particular conjoint analysis, to explain how individuals’ engage with climate policy and how policy can be designed to achieve support at large, as well as amongst particularly relevant audience segments.
Royal Holloway is home to academics, like them, who are making an impact — their published research has informed understanding of the politics surrounding climate change in a variety of contexts, and has been cited by media outlets worldwide.
Royal Holloway is also home to the Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS), a multidisciplinary, international group of researchers and educators with a wealth of knowledge and experience on organisational responses to sustainability challenges.
CRIS is world-leading in three research areas: Accounting for Sustainability, Responsible Consumption and Responsible Business. It has expertise in sustainability relating to accounting, supply chains and logistics, corporate social responsibility and business ethics as well as environmental issues.
Their experience includes working with small and medium-sized enterprises, social enterprises, multinational corporations and the public sector. An example of their work includes studying why social and environmental sustainability initiatives in the garment industry have not made a widespread impact, in addition to presenting recommendations to scale these initiatives.
Research aside, Royal Holloway is also actively involved in sustainability-related discussions and events. In the first two weeks of November, Royal Holloway hosted a COP26 Forum, a series of events and activities for students, staff and the general public running in parallel to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26).
The forum at Royal Holloway demonstrates how the university’s community is contributing to meeting the challenges posed by climate change and ecological loss, decarbonisation and helping to generate creative engagements and solutions.
Ultimately, Royal Holloway has the expertise that can help businesses and organisations champion sustainability, and better understand changing expectations of their customers and markets.
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