The NatWest Group’s project to deliver climate education to all of their staff, in collaboration with the University, is a fantastic example of how education can have a transformative impact beyond the primary objective of learning new skills, in this case to create a sense of joint endeavour and to find positive steps to alleviate the climate crisis.
Central to the partnership is the delivery of several online education programmes to more than 16,000 staff covering sectors such as retail and leisure, real estate, commercial real estate and agriculture, enabling employees in priority roles to be equipped with the tools and confidence to engage in climate conversations both within the bank and with business customers.
Learning Technologies Awards Gold
This particular executive education partnership is going from strength to strength, having won Gold at the recent Learning Technologies Awards for the Best Digital Learning Transformation Programme.
The judges said: “We were particularly impressed by the partnership and their joint tenacity to drive science-based and sustainable education (rather than just training that has an endpoint). This programme is driving transformation that is inclusive, diverse, and brings a sense of belonging to generate value way beyond the learning itself”.
Clare Martin, Head of Learning Content & Capability for NWG said:
We realised early on that climate education is a key part of fulfilling our ambition of becoming a leading bank in the UK helping to address the climate challenge. By enabling colleagues to be equipped with the tools and confidence to engage in climate conversations, we knew we could better help our customers and suppliers transition to a net-zero economy”.
Dr Sarah Ivory is Senior Lecturer in Climate Change and Business Strategy at the University of Edinburgh, she said: “NatWest Group has trusted our experience and expertise, especially in advice around education design decisions to achieve the most impact. Because of this, they’ve given us access to their staff, processes, and strategies”.
Climate education impact
Clare Martin concludes: “The main impact from the programme has been increased confidence and awareness. 98% of colleagues surveyed about the programme felt they’d learned how their role and profession can aid in combating climate change, and 82% felt better equipped to respond to and make decisions connected with climate change impacts. Ultimately, we want to continue to inspire climate action and innovation through learning, and the collaboration with the University of Edinburgh is a vital way of making this happen”.
Centre for Purpose-Driven Innovation
This partnership paved the way for the development of the new Centre for Purpose-Driven Innovation in Banking, another NWG/University of Edinburgh partnership, launched in June 2023 to harness banking data for the good of society. Supported by EI, it involves the Data-Driven Innovation hubs: the Edinburgh Futures Institute and the Bayes Centre, and draws on expertise from more than 100 academics across the whole of the University.
Dr George Baxter, CEO of Edinburgh Innovations, said:
EI is proud to be building long-term, industry-academia partnerships that support the University’s strategic goals. By collaborating, we will ensure innovative solutions to the challenges we all face, such as financial wellbeing and harnessing data for good. ”
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Tobi Schneider, Sector Engagement Manager for Financial Services and FinTech, Edinburgh Futures Institute.