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Durham University

University and City: Growing together

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Durham a world top 100 university for sustainability

(21 April 2021)

Family enjoying Botanic Garden

We’ve been ranked 87th in the world for our overall contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), demonstrating our commitment to a sustainable future.

The rankings also place Durham in the top 100 in nine of the individual league tables for the 17 UN SDGs, an achievement we are really proud of.

Global goals, local action

The results are from the latest edition of the annual Times Higher Education Global Impact Rankings 2021, which assessed over 1,000 universities from 94 countries to look at their progress towards the 17 SDGs.

We’re committed to a more sustainable future and we’re working hard to achieve this across our campus and in partnership with our neighbours.

Some of the work, which has contributed to our success in these global rankings, includes:

  • A dedicated Environmental Sustainability action plan, with a commitment to no net loss of biodiversity across our estate.
  • Sharing our cultural heritage and contributing to the local arts with everything from access to our World Heritage Site, libraries and museums, to public lectures and student performance groups.
  • Protecting and enhancing local ecosystems across campus, including the work in our 10-hectare Botanic Garden.
  • Supporting water conservation on campus and using renewable technologies such as ground source heat pumps and solar panels.
  • Repurposing brownfield land where possible and ensuring our new buildings, and any refurbishment works, meet rigorous sustainability targets.
  • Supporting sustainable travel, biodiversity and nature conservation with our £6.5m Infrastructure Improvements project.

Research with our community

Durham University has signed the SDG Accord, which is a global response and commitment from the Higher Education sector to the UN SDGs.

Our academics are also using their expertise to help support the SDGs in our region.

As part of The Water Hub partnership, our experts are working with communities and government agencies on water security and sustainable water use (supporting SDG6 ‘Clean water and sanitation’). This has included work with residents in South Moor on sustainable urban drainage, and Corbridge on new ways to communicate flood risks.

Researchers in our Engineering department are looking at how to protect soil health (supporting SDG15 ‘Life on land’) and reclaim brownfield land for communities.

Durham Energy Institute is the hub for energy research at Durham. One of their pioneering areas of research has looked at how water from disused coalmines in our region could be used to heat homes (supporting SDG7 ‘Affordable and clean energy’). This is now part of a £7million renewable energy project in South Tyneside.

Find out more