Glossary for Learning & Skills in Sustainability...

Agenda 21 is the name of the agreement signed by most countries at the UN Rio Conference in 1992. "Agenda 21 addresses the pressing problems of today and also aims at preparing the world for the challenges of the next century. It reflects a global consensus and political commitment at the highest level on development and environment co-operation."

Capacity building is the development of the skills and activities of individuals in an organisation to their full capacity. It means investment made with the purpose of enhancing the ability of individuals to achieve their development goals.

Carbon footprint

Is the measure of the amount of carbon dioxide or CO2 emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels - in the case of an organisation, business or enterprise, as part of their everyday operations. In materials, CF is the result of life cycle analysis that measures embodied energy.

Carbon neutrality is "the potential for net carbon emissions to be zero, all else being equal. For operational activity, this would involve some form of offset, with the question of ‘additionality’ being central.

For plans and policies, carbon neutrality might mean no net increase in carbon emissions from the proposed activity/development, with offsetting done through investments in other sectors or locations. Both these definitions allow a clear distinction between carbon neutrality and ‘zero carbon’, where the latter is any activity (whether an operation, plan or policy) where absolute carbon emissions are zero". Definitions from UKERC Briefing Paper

Carbon offset

Is a service that reduces the net greenhouse gas (see below) emissions of a party, by either reducing the greenhouse gas emission, or increasing the carbon dioxide absorption of another party.

Climate Change originally meant changes in climate over a period of time, although now it has come to mean the changes in climate, in particular temperature and rain, over the last few decades, and widely considered to be due to changes in industrial processes. Also called "Global Warming" see below)

Competency is the set of skills and attitudes, described in terms of behaviours, which can be observed and which is essential for effective environmental performance. Competence is the ability to perform in the workplace to the standards required. (Environmental Management NOS)

Continual Improvement involves the identifying areas for improvement, developing and implementing plans for improvement evaluating the results and using the findings to develop further improvements (Environmental Management NOS).

Corporate Social Responsibility is the commitment of business to contribute to sustainable economic development, working with employees, their families, the local community and society at large to improve their quality of life. (Source:World Business Council for Sustainable Development)

Counting Carbon

Counting Carbon for Offset Purposes measures three sorts of the carbon sequestration: annual fluxes, long-term changes in carbon stocks, & cumulative carbon storage. Counting carbon within many organisations will measure and monitor energy, which will be translated into carbon use and CO2 emissions.

"Cradle to grave" is a life-cycle approach that examine products, processes and services from origins through production to disposal.

Demand-side are the stakeholders who need skills and need to say what they are.

Duty of Care applies to anybody who carries, keeps, treats, or disposes of waste, or who acts as a third party and arranges matters such as imports or disposal. They must ensure that nobody in the chain commits an offence regarding waste

Ecology is the study of communities of living organisms and the relationships among the members of those communities and between them and the physical and chemical constituents of their surroundings.

Ecosystems are systems in which organisms interact with each other and with their environment. There are two parts; the entire complex of organisms (biome) living in harmony and the habitat in which the biome exists.

Environment is everything that surrounds us, including ourselves.

Environmental culture is 'the way we do things for the environment around here' along with the shared assumptions, beliefs, values and norms. More on organisational culture.

Environmental Management System (EMS)

"is the part of the overall management system which includes organisation structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the environmental policy." (ISO 14001 Def) There are two main systems - ISO 14001 internationally and the EU Scheme EMAS.

Environmental Performance is the relationship between the organisation and the environment. It includes: the environmental effects of resources consumed, the environmental impacts of the organisational process, the environmental implications of its products and services, the recovery and processing of products and meeting the environmental requirements of law. (Environmental Management NOS)

Environmental Practices are those work practices which reduce negative and promote positive impacts on the environment

Environmental Practitioner is a skilled employee who is capable of helping implement procedures for improving the environmental performance of the organisation

Employee Involvement refers to internal communication, training and assignment of responsibilities in job descriptions, as outlined in EMAS.

Global Warming is an increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth.

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) are gases in the atmosphere that contribute to the "greenhouse effect" (below). Some greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, while others result from human activities. Naturally occurring greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, and ozone.

The "Greenhouse effect": Some sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface is absorbed and warms the earth - which then radiates energy at much longer wavelengths than the sun. Some of these longer wavelengths are absorbed by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere before they are lost to space. The absorption of this longwave radiant energy warms the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases also emit longwave radiation both upward to space and downward to the surface - this being the "greenhouse effect". (although this isn't how greenhouses are warmed...)

Green Productivity (GP) is a strategy for simultaneously enhancing productivity and environmental performance for overall socio-economic development that leads to sustained improvement in the quality of human life.

Green-wash (green'wash', -wôsh') – verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. See 6 Sins of Greenwashing

Health and Safety refers issues related to chronic ill-health caused by work (occupational health) and more acute damage caused by physical environment.

Just Transition keeps workers and communities whole when toxic chemicals, or other environmental damaging processes, are banned or phased out.

Level 1 (Foundation) indicates an initial stage below the usual standard for work. The QCA definition of Level 1 is "competence in the performance of a range of varied work activities, most of which may be routine and predictable."

Level 2 (Intermediate) People who work under supervisions or who work in teams are considered as 'Intermediate' or level 2. The QCA definition is "The QCA definition of Level 2 is competence in a significant range of varied work activities, performed in a variety of contexts. Some of the activities are complex or non-routine, and there is some individual responsibility or autonomy."

Level 3 (Advanced) People at level 3 are employees who do not have the responsibility of managers, but do not work under supervision, and have the freedom to move about at work. The QCA definition is "competence in a broad range of varied work activities performed in a wide variety of contexts, most of which are complex and non-routine."

Level 4 (Management) is for people who are responsible for organising people and production. QCA definition is "Competence in a broad range of complex, technical or professional work activities performed in a wide variety of contexts and with a substantial degree of personal responsibility and autonomy. Responsibility for the work of others and allocation of resources is often present".

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) examines the impact a product has on the environment from the beginning to the end of its lifetime, in order to idenitfy where to increase resource-use efficiency and decrease liabilities.

National Occupational Standards (NOSs)
NOSs set out realworld job skills defined by employers, and other stakeholders

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) are qualifications which assesses someone’s competence in a work situation. NVQs are based on national occupational standards.

Precautionary Principle is part of the Rio Declaration that says: "Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation" (Principle 15).

Product Stewardship denotes the responsible management of the health, safety and environmental aspects of the basic configuration of a business in terms of a product throughout its life-cycle and / or the investment and operations to produce a process or provide a service.

Quality and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is the guardian of standards in education and training in England & Wales. The Scottish equivalent is SQA.

Reasonably Practicable. 'As far as is reasonably practicable' "implies that a computation must be made by the employer in which the quantum of risk is placed on one scale and the sacrifice in the measures necessary to avert the risk (whether in money, time or trouble) is placed in the other." Edwards v NCB 1949 used in H&S at Work etc Act 1974

Resources are the people, time, equipment, materials, services, energy and premises. (Environmental Management NOS).

Risk is '"he likelihood of the hazard's potential being realised" according to the Health & Safety Executive.

Risk Assessment is the process of estimating the risk to health or environment of a product or work process by determining the possible extent of damage and the likelihood of that damage occurring. The goal is to produce "objective" data as a basis for making managerial or regulatory decisions.

Sector Skills Councils (SSC) replaced the National Training Organisations as the bodies responsible for developing skills and the standards to define them.

Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) is the central body responsible for conducting the overall development of both generic and sector skills in the UK.

Skills: Generic Skills are transferable skills which can be used across occupational groups. These include key skills, communication, application of number, problem solving, team working, IT and improving own learning and performance. Generic skills also cover reasoning skills, work process, management skills, personal values and attitudes such as motivation, discipline, judgement, leadership and initiative. Transitional skills are those generic skills, such as environmental skills, that contribute to the transition to a more sustainable production process. Vocational Skills are the specific "technical" skills needed to work within an occupation oroccupational group - hence sector skills. These are essential for standard occupational tasks.

Standards Here when we refer to standards, we refer to the standards for skills. In the UK, these are called National Occupational Standards (See NOSs). Many people also refer to standards as the standards to define various managment systems, eg. ISO 14001 is a standard for environmental management systems.

Supply-side are the colleges and training providers who support skills development.

Sustainable Development "is development that meets that needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." according to Our Common Future - the Bruntland Report in 1987 . For more

Systems are sets of interacting elements organized in relation to a goal. Systems theory gives a view of how complex networks work, often using analysis of mow natural or eco-systems work. At work, quality systems are set up to provide the required goals as efficiently as possible.

TQEM means Total Quality and Environmental Management and does for environmental management systems what Total Quality Management did for ISO 9000, turning it from a series of procedures to a way of life at work.

Triple Bottom Line is for companies aiming for sustainability, who have to perform to not just a single financial bottom line, but the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity - Profit, Planet & People.

Vocational means "work" or "work-related".

Vocationally-related Qualifications (VRQs) are qualifications that relate with work. They are a cross between "academic/professional" qualifications which test knowledge and NVQs which determine competence to to a particular job. VRQs develop skills that can enhance work, but are not specific to particular tasks.