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Generally, a comprehensive plan provides the necessary strategy to be successful in managing the implementation and day-to-day operations of a program. Often the components of program management are not fully considered, integrated or followed. This can undermine the efforts and success of a plan. The principles on the following page are part of the REFOCUS approach, which provides guidance for developing a transformative program specific to sustainability. Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo and Ryerson University were all part of a 2016 REFOCUS pilot project that reviewed the effectiveness of past sustainability programs. The Sustainability Office will work to embed three principles in our strategic planning and day-to-day operations to achieve effective program management and success.

Three Principles of Strategic Program Management

Leadership Capacity

The way an organization makes key decisions and runs its operations is essential for both success and buy-in. At a university, stakeholder participation is necessary to gather input from our diverse community so that we are not making decisions in silos, which is an important principle followed in this plan. The goal of this plan must reflect the goals of the university to be successful. As discussed in previous sections, the field of sustainability is broad. The plan encompasses a wide array of disciplines, topics and approaches. In light of the broad focus of sustainability, the Sustainability Office plays a key role in the overall leadership and planning of sustainability related efforts at the university. The approach implemented must remain broad to include all interdependent elements of social, environmental and economic sustainability.

Key Themes: Strategy, Community, Systems Thinking

Change Management

Key goals and successes of our sustainability program have been cross-campus coordination and communications on sustainability issues, as well as connecting our campuses to local and global trends. Increasingly, these trends include funding opportunities, particularly from the government. Therefore it is essential that we have the expertise and projects ready to respond. Similarly, sustainability in learning is contextually relevant, now more than ever. Together, these factors provide many opportunities for development in both the operational and academic sides of the institution.

Considering this, the Sustainability Office will continue its work providing strategic direction to the university on key societal and institutional trends in sustainability and will work to engage the leadership group further, to ensure representation and a comprehensive lens for decision making. The office will continue emphasizing sustainability outreach and awareness efforts by informing, consulting, collaborating with and empowering the Laurier community. Bolstering an understanding of our efforts and general sustainability trends will result in further buy-in and commitment.

Key Themes: Connections, Outreach, Engagement

Measurement Capacity

Whether metrics are qualitative or quantitative, the ability to measure and communicate results, successes and failures of programs is important. Proper measurement and communication contributes to participation, recognition, buy-in, improvement and impact. Strong measurement capacity is particularly important for sustainability programs in which there is still some ambiguity around both their application at the organizational level and across the standard practices of the industry.

The Sustainability Office uses metrics on the strategic level, within action plans such as this, as well as through engagement statistics, annual material audits, daily energy usage and more. These practices have demonstrated financial, compliance and reputational benefits from sustainability programs.

Key Themes: Indicators, Frameworks, Reporting


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