Harvard University Sustainability Plan - SDG Materiality Assessment

Period: 6/2017 - Ongoing
Partner: Harvard University Office for Sustainability
Type of project: Pilot project, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), SDG materiality assessment, SDG action plan alignment, SDG cases with student involvement
In collaboration with Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability, Danish Management (DM) conducted a piolet project that included a materiality assessment, aligning the University-wide Sustainability Plan with the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs). The aim of this project was to show how the SDGs can be utilized as a tool to align Harvard’s decentralized campus around a holistic vision using a common platform that the SDGs can provide. Harvard’s current Sustainability Plan published by the Office for Sustainability consists of five primary focus areas including campus operations as well as research and teaching. Each of the five areas was first aligned with primary Sustainable Development Goals. The Plan's corresponding Standards, Commitments and Goals were then aligned with specific SDG Targets. Additional text in the Plan was also highlighted to show how the SDGs can help to meet the specific vision and objectives being discussed. Primary recommendations were also provided. By aligning the Harvard University Sustainability Plan with the Sustainable Development Goals, we were able to demonstrate how the SDGs can provide a number of benefits for Harvard’s Office for Sustainability, and the University as a whole. These benefits include: 1. Creating a platform for aligning diverse activities and fostering innovation 2. Making sure that big sustainability issues don’t fall through the cracks 3. Not re-inventing the wheel – using existing standards to report and gain inspiration for new sustainability activities 4. Providing an easy communication tool for university leaders