Edinburgh University partnership to further NatWest Group climate expertise

Bank wide climate transformation training rolled out alongside a specialist climate training programme for commercial real estate, retail and leisure and manufacturing sectors.

NatWest Group has announced a 3-year partnership with The University of Edinburgh Centre for Business, Climate Change and Sustainability. The £1.5m partnership will facilitate the delivery of a climate education programme to more than 16,000 people across the NatWest Group by the end of 2024, including relationship managers and other customer facing colleagues. It will also support the delivery of the in-depth Climate Change Transformation training programme for those in priority roles who require a broader level of knowledge.

Experts from The University of Edinburgh Centre for Business, Climate Change and Sustainability will work alongside Royal Bank of Scotland and its parent brand NatWest’s business banking specialists to deliver 12-week online education programmes to relationship managers and colleagues in priority roles to help business customers identify the opportunities a net zero economy can create, while helping them become more sustainable operations in the process.

The university will work with NatWest Group to develop the training, tools and content to support colleague education and awareness. This will help them engage in climate conversations both within the bank and with business customers, helping them understand and take action to reduce their climate impact and to identify and realise the business opportunities from being at the forefront of the net zero economy.

Edinburgh University and NatWest Group climate colleagues

This new deal builds on the previous successful collaboration with The University of Edinburgh Centre for Business, Climate Change and Sustainability and seeks to support the evolution and growth of existing programmes, developing new learning to support key sectors across the bank.

This year will also see the roll out of sector specific climate training programmes across commercial real estate, retail and leisure and manufacturing.

The University and NatWest Group will work with real estate expert Cushman and Wakefield to provide commercial real estate specialist training; Circuthon Consulting, Helen Chambers Consulting and My Little Green Wardrobe to provide retail and leisure specialist training; and Warwick Manufacturing Group at Warwick University to deliver manufacturing specialist training.


James Close, Head of Climate Change, NatWest Group said:

“Climate education across the bank is central to us reaching our climate ambitions and the UK’s move to a net zero economy.

“We continue to inspire climate action and innovation through learning and this partnership with the University of Edinburgh will enable us to accelerate this. In the next three years we will continue to improve the climate capability of the bank through co-delivery of a robust and specifically tailored programme of education.

“This specialist training will provide the confidence for colleagues to step into climate conversations both within the bank and with customers. Increased knowledge will empower bank colleagues to help businesses across sectors roll out effective and credible transition plans as the UK heads towards a low carbon economy.


Jonathan Seckl, Senior Vice Principal of The University of Edinburgh said: “The Centre for Business, Climate Change and Sustainability are leading the field in this area of research, and we are proud that this new partnership will enable them to further their impact in this sector. Social responsibility and sustainability are central focal points for the University’s 2030 Strategy, and a partnership that promotes the delivery of such a significant climate education programme is at the very heart of what we hope to achieve.”


Wendy Loretto, Dean of The University of Edinburgh Business School“We are delighted that this relationship has resulted in an official partnership, as it will enable us to build upon and deepen the close working relationship that our Business School colleagues have established with NatWest Group over the past few years.

“The response we have had from across the business is inspiring and testament to the positive approach being adopted by the bank in pursuing its purpose led mission. COP26 highlighted just how integral businesses are in this climate crisis, and collaborations such as this mark the great responsibility business schools have in ensuring their research translates to effective change. This partnership gives us the opportunity to ensure we are at the forefront of such change.”


In 2021 NatWest Group delivered climate education to more than 13,000 colleagues with focus on climate awareness, climate change and the agriculture sector.

As a result of participating in the Climate Change Transformation Programme, 85% of people who completed the programme were confident ‘knowing how to respond and make decisions on climate change impacts within the organisation’ compared to 32% at the start of the programme.


Close continues: “Feedback from training participants has been positive with some expressing how the training made them more aware of the bank’s commitment to climate change and making them proud to play their part in helping customers improve their awareness of what and how they can gain momentum on their own climate change journeys.”


In 2021, NatWest Group published A Springboard to Sustainability report, which found that the UK’s six million Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can achieve 50% of the UK’s net zero decarbonisation goals while opening up an estimated £160 billion revenue opportunity.

Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time. As the leading bank in the UK for business customers, and one of the largest for personal customers, we have a significant responsibility, and the ability, to encourage, enable and to lead the way in helping people across the UK to transition to a net zero carbon economy.

Climate Hub – aiming to help SMEs go and grow greener

The NatWest Climate Hub features tips, insights and tools aiming to help all UK SMEs act now to tackle climate change, by reducing emissions and unlocking green growth opportunities. It brings together resources, products and services that address some of the gaps identified in NatWest’s A Springboard to Sustainability report, as well as educating SMEs around the financial benefits of transitioning towards net zero. Businesses can find out more at www.natwest.com/climatehub

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