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Governance Effectiveness Projects: The Board's Role in ESG and Sustainability Oversight

This project explores how sustainability goals affect governance decision-making and investigates the implications for governing body oversight, roles, responsibilities and skills needed.

As Executive Teams and Governing Bodies are making decisions about the university they will increasingly want to know what the university is doing with respect to its sustainability strategy (economic, social and environmental), the positive and negative impact of its sustainability strategy and how the strategy aligns to key indicators such as the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Furthermore, governing bodies are considering the principles of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) as a way of setting socially and environmentally conscious principles or standards for decision-making.

What are the implications for governing body oversight, roles/responsibilities and skills needed? 

We encourage institutions to consider bringing two representatives from across their governance team and executive team.  

An Advance HE member benefit

Governance Effectiveness Projects: The Board's Role in Sustainability Oversight is an Advance HE member benefit and is open to colleagues at Advance HE member institutions. If you are interested in participating in this programme please register your interest using the form below.

Register your Interest

Aims and Objectives

A sandpit event aims to convene participants from different disciplines to discuss challenges and uncover creative or innovative solutions to offer new ways of working or thinking about a particular issue.

We will raise our gaze beyond our usual thinking horizons to look at the whole system we operate in. Sharing ideas and thoughts about how it might evolve or be shaped.

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Sandpit event: The Board's Role in ESG and Sustainability Oversight

Watch the presentations from our two expert speakers.  Carol Adams looks at what drives sustainable transformation and what is the role of governance. 

Paul Sahota addressed the Board's Role in ESG, in particular, what the ESG challenge looks like in the private sector. 


Kim Ansell

Senior Consultant, Governance and Leadership, Advance HE

Kim has worked across higher and professional education providing support to groups at all levels including senior leadership teams and Boards, to facilitate change, strategic thinking, planning and performance improvement. Kim has recently led the Advance HE membership-themed month on the topic of Transforming Organisations from student to board, the Supporting Inclusive Boards programme and is co-leading the forthcoming Advance HE Sustainability Conference for senior leaders in HE.

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Carol Adams

Professor of Accounting, Durham University Business School

Carol is Professor of Accounting at Durham University Business School in the UK and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal. She is one of the world’s most published and cited researchers in the field of sustainability accounting and reporting. Carol's work focusses on changes in organisational systems, processes, and beliefs in adapting to sustainable development challenges and the role that reporting Standards and guidance have in helping or hindering that change.

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Carol Adams
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Paul Sahota

Member of Board of Governors, University of West London

As European Head of ESG & Sustainability at DNV Business Assurance services and a member of the Board at the University of West London, Paul Sahota is uniquely positioned to reflect on if and how Higher Education adopts ESG practices for the future. Paul previously served in independent governance roles at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust and held board trustee positions with two charities. In this capacity, he worked with several regulatory regimes including NHS England, Care Quality Commission, The Charities Commission and The Information Commissioners Office.

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Paul sahota
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Blog: The Board's role in ESG and ‘sustainability oversight’ – beware the acronyms

Project lead, Kim Ansell, reflects on the opportunities and challenges highlighted in our third sandpit event for governors and governance professionals which explored the Board’s role in ESG and sustainability oversight – two different but related topics.

Read the blog
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