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May 2021 meeting summary

The Environment and Sustainability Working Party (E&SWP) met on 6 May and were presented with two papers for discussion.

As part of the E&SWP terms of reference, working party members are making recommendations to the College on its internal environment and sustainability policies. The first paper weighed up several different sustainability accreditation schemes which the RCVS could sign up to. Discussion centred around which scheme would be the best fit for the College in terms of requirements, level of service provided, and knowledge of the sector. The working party came to a decision, and passed its recommendation to the Finance and Resources Committee who subsequently approved the recommendation. As a result, the RCVS has now submitted an application to gain environmental accreditation from Investors in the Environment (iiE) who will work with the RCVS Green Team to set achievable targets for the College to help improve its environmental impact.

The working party also discussed the merits of fossil fuel divestment and considered whether this would be something the College should explore. The College is a member of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) who encourage members to divest as an essential step to reduce their contribution to global environmental problems. The working party agreed to recommend that the College should divest from fossil fuels, and the Finance and Resources Committee have agreed that the College will consider this alongside a broader ethical review of its investment policies.

To conclude the meeting, Dr Susan Paterson, Chair of the E&SWP talked through the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development goals. Dr Paterson explained how mapping these against the veterinary profession could help the sector make steps into becoming more sustainable through makings changes in day-to-day practice. The working party agreed that using the UN sustainable development goals could be a useful guide as they develop a profession-facing environment and sustainability policy.

The working party will meet again on Monday 12 July.