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Durham University


People and Planet University League

This page has been developed to improve the ease of access to information relating to the 2021 People and Planet University League.





Publicly Available Policy

All of our Policies and Procedures are available on our Policies Page.
Our overarching Policy is our Environmental Sustainability Vision, Policy and Strategy

Targets and Strategy

Human Resources


The Director of Estates and Facilities is a member of the University Executive Committee (UEC) and represents the Energy and Sustainability Team. Environmental Sustainability Vision, Policy and Strategy documents the governance structure.
The Environmental Sustainability Strategic Planning Group oversee the University's Environmental, Vision, Policy and Strategy and are an advisory body to the UEC. View the ESSPG Membership here.

Environmental Sustainability Staff

Please visit for more detail on our Energy and Sustainability Team and other environmental staff at the University.


The Energy and Sustainability Team have £250,000 for Energy and Infrastructure Projects and Behavioural Change programmes. Including the Ring Fenced Carbon Budget that is open for all staff to apply for funding each year.

All staff

Environment Champion Scheme – there is a Champion for each Department, Professional Support Services and College - view the full list of Environment Champions here.
More Information on the Environment Champion Network.

Workshops and Toolbox Talks are organised throughout the year. Please see Training and Awareness

Auditing & EMS


After achieving the EcoCampus Gold Award in June 2020, we are pleased to announce we gained Platinum in December 2020. To view our certificate please visit our Environmental Credentials page.

To view EcoCampus Procedure please visit our Policies Page.

In 2020 the SDG Group hired two student interns who audited the Modules across all Faculties reviewing the learning objectives, their environmental, social, economic or cultural impact, and keywords relating to the SDGs. Audits of the Colleges involved interviews with College staff, Student Environment Officers and JCR Officers/Presidents.

Ethical Investment


View our Ethical Investment Policy (June 2020).

Carbon Management

Carbon Management Plan and targets

In 2011, the first Carbon Management Plan was created with the Carbon Trust, setting our targets in line with Government and Hefce targets, relating to 2013/14 and 2020. With this plan setting out a five-year plan to achieve the intermediate target of 2013/14 to review the progress of the 2020 target. We are currently in the final stages of developing a new Sustainability Strategy and Carbon Management Plan to take us to 2030. We have worked with the Carbon Trust to develop a Science-Based Target that's aligned to a pathway that limits warming to 1.5C.

We continue to monitor and report our carbon footprint in line with this policy. In the last five years, we have reduced our footprint by 34%, please view our Carbon Footprint Tracker.
An analysis of Carbon, Energy and Water Targets set out in the Action Plan was undertaken in January 2020 and reported to the ESSPG in February 2020.


The University currently has 17 Colleges, we monitor Energy, Water and Waste from these sites (we are working with CLV to monitor usage at John Snow and South). Building energy and water use is reported to UEC annually, and student awareness campaigns are run throughout the year to reduce consumption. The analysis of Carbon, Energy and Water reviewed the use of residential buildings, this was reported to the ESSPG in February 2020, view the presentation here.

Workers Rights

Living wage

From 1 April 2021, a Living Wage Supplement will be applied to increase the hourly rate for points 4-9 on our Pay Spine. This Supplement will ensure that staff on the lowest spine points continue to be paid an hourly rate that is higher than the Living Wage Foundation hourly rate (currently £9.50). This Supplement will be reviewed once the outcome of the national pay negotiations for 2021/22 is known. For more visit Human Resources & Organisational Development: Salary - Durham University


The University has been accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation since 2007. In 2019 we began working towards becoming a Fairtrade University with the NUS Fairtrade Award, in 2020/2021 we applied for the one-year extension. The Procurement, Catering and Retail Teams consider Fairtrade, Rain Forest Alliance, Organic Cotton where possible.

Supply Chain

The University is affiliated with Electronics Watch for more information view the Modern Slavery Statement

Responsible Procurement

Sustainable Food

In our Action Plan under Procurement KPI 27 and 28 refer to Sustainable Food.
Procurement Policy

Marine Stewardship Council

The University has been accredited by the MSC since 2015, and we won the University of the Year Award in both 2015 and 2016.


Durham University actively works with its food suppliers to maximise the use of local growers and local produce. One example is the engagement with J.R. Holland Food Services to identify local fruit and vegetable growers, resulting in seasonal produce sourced within 25 miles of the University. The University sources its milk and yoghurt from Embleton Hall Dairies based in Durham.


Free drinking water is available in all of our Cafes with additional water fountains across the Estate.

Community Food

A number of Colleges maintain their own allotments. St Mary's College has a student-led Beekeeping Society.

Student Volunteering has many Environmental Volunteering Projects, including Beyond Food and Feeding Families. The Beyond Food project works with Trussell Trust’s Durham food bank to provide food parcels for disadvantaged families in the east of Durham. The food collection boxes are placed in colleges and the project leaders arrange for pickup and collection by the Trussell Trust’s Durham Foodbank.
During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catering Team worked with local food banks to redistribute food. (East Durham Trust Article)

Staff & Student Engagement

Engagement Strategy

For us to achieve the ambitious targets set out in our Action Plan, we need to make sure all staff and students are aware of their role in creating a more sustainable University. We have a well-established network of staff and student Environment Champions to support us in our plans, acting as a vital network for communication. A Staff and Student Engagement Strategy is available. Further policies can be found at Please visit

Engagement with the Carbon Management Plan

Staff and student engagement forms part of our Action Plan. The Environmental Sustainability Strategic Planning Group (ESSPG) has representation from all four academic faculties, the Colleges, Professional Services and the Students’ Union.

Oversight of Sustainable Policy with Staff and Students

This is achieved through the Environmental Sustainability Strategic Planning Group (ESSPG) as well as, through our Environment Champion and Student Environment Representative networks across all parts of the University. ESSPG Membership

Student induction processes

Material is sent out to all colleges and departments for inclusion in student and staff induction. This includes a short presentation, full details in the student handbooks, livers out guide and an online training module that is accessible to all via DUO (Blackboard).

Greenspace Festival

The Energy and Sustainability Team organise a Sustainability Event, our Greenspace Festival, with the support of other teams in the University. We also work with local organisations and charities to promote sustainability in the local area. We invite all staff, students, and the local community to get involved. Full details of our Greenspace Festival are available.

Environmental and ethical/sustainability campaigns

ESSPG and Energy and Sustainability Team design a schedule of awareness-raising events and activities for each academic year; for last year's details please visit:

The My Greenspace Calendar now replaces the Environment Schedule, again using raising awareness around each of our sustainability icons. The aim is to promote awareness of the icons each month, how people can take action and what the University’s targets are. A copy of 2020/21 My Greenspace Calendar is available.

View our online campaign:

Local Community Partnership

Members of the Energy and Sustainability Team participate, and in some cases lead on, many working groups and committees that are internal and external to support and advise on local community projects and strategy, regarding the estate, travel, sustainability and engagement. This year we held our first open Greenspace Festival which showcased the work of local charities, student groups and research at the University. Find out more on our Greenspace Festival Sway.

Durham Energy Institute (DEI) works with communities to support local energy projects and to inform local discussions on energy issues such as fracking and heat networks. It also works with local authorities and regional bodies on regional energy projects and has a schools outreach programme on energy education and encouraging engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects. For more information on the DEI please visit their webpage.

ECO2 COP Schools Climate project: We are working with Durham County Council and the outdoor education charity OASES on an exciting project to engage schools in climate education in the run-up to the COP26 international climate meeting. All Durham Schools are being invited to take part in the exciting ECO₂ Smart Schools Climate Conference to learn about how schools from around the world are experiencing and adapting to climate change. Schools that sign up to the ECO₂ Smart Schools Climate Conference will be paired up with an overseas school and provided with an education pack that will explore the COP26 themes: adaptation and mitigation, nature, transport, energy and finance. The education pack which has been developed in collaboration with Durham University researchers will guide and empower pupils to think about their own and learn about their partner school’s experiences and response to climate change. In the Autumn Term 2021, schools will come together to represent their country at the ECO₂ Smart Schools Climate Conference!

Find out more at

University and City: Grow Together

Staff and Student Volunteering Teams run a wide range of projects within the local community, they work with local councils and charities to raise money, volunteer and mentoring. Our SDG Group is in partnership with the council, volunteers' teams and other members of staff to develop an interactive programme on the UN SDG's through workshops for local schools.

Student Volunteering: Hedgehog Friendly Campus, Beyond Food, Balsam Bashing and many more...

Funds for staff and student-led projects

College Environment Champions and Student Environment Representatives:

  • Staff - £250
  • Students - £100

All staff can apply for support from the Ring-Fenced Carbon Fund for a project that will save carbon, up to £10,000 per project and a total of £100,000 is allocated to fund these projects internally.

For examples of successful fund applications please email the team.

Staff Inductions

All new starters complete the Environmental Sustainability Online Training Module which is part of every member of staff induction checklist with HR.

Trade Union

The Trade Unions are invited to attend meetings, such as the Integrated Sustainable Travel Plan Steering Group (ISTPSG) and the Vehicle Parking Working Group (VPWG).

Student representation planning and resources.

The Estates Team publish upcoming plans onto the website which is open for feedback from all members of the public. Key Projects have a Students’ Union representative who attends meetings and reviews plans.

Students’ Union continual environmental improvement

The Durham Students' Union (DSU) announced a Climate Emergency in November 2019. They are undertaking a sustainability audit. The Energy and Sustainability Team have supported the DSU with advice on energy, waste and water management as well as carrying out on-site audits. The Sustainability Coordinator has been working closely with DSU and has supported events and campaigns.


Commitment to ESD

Durham University’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has grown significantly. We have seen the greatest contribution through our research activity, with projects ongoing across our faculties and departments which feed into the overall SDG agenda. This includes research on unacceptable forms of work and protection for workers, neglected tropical diseases, and drug discovery. Durham has also created the UK’s first Global Challenges Research Fund Centre for Doctoral Training, which hosts 26 PhD students delivering interdisciplinary challenge-led projects aligned with the SDGs. We will look to build on our platform of activity in the next 12 months, with a new global strategy that incorporates the SDGs and to ensure the SDGs remain a priority for us as an institution.
Professor Claire O'Malley, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Global)

Our Full-time MBA has been ranked 7th in the world by the Corporate Knights Better World MBA Ranking 2019, which evaluates the extent to which programmes integrate sustainability knowledge and skills into business education. Durham MBA ranked in Global Top 10 for Sustainability

Durham Business School PRME Report for 2020

For an overview of Durham University's work towards the SDGs please visit our Sway here.

Framework / Strategy for ESD

In 2019-20 we developed a sub-group of the ESSPG to focus on the Curriculum. In our Action Plan, we have KPI 29-31 focused on the Curriculum. We worked with the Durham Inspired Award team to develop a short video for the online learning animations.

The Durham Business School's ‘Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability Steering Group’ (ERSSG) developed an ERS Strategy, in which they committed to support the Education and Student Experience strategy in general and to further develop the resources to support the embedding of ERS within the curriculum in particular, linking this to the Sustainable Development Goals where appropriate.

Reviewing and reporting on ESD

In 2020 the SDG Group hired two student interns who audited the Modules across all Faculties reviewing the learning objectives, their environmental, social, economic or cultural impact, and keywords relating to the SDGs. Audits of the Colleges involved interviews with College staff, Student Environment Officers and JCR Officers/Presidents.

Support and training for academic staff

Research Groups:
At the University there are many research groups, staff and students from different departments work together on a range of topics. A brief description of the groups and their research interests is given below. Each group maintains its own web pages, and much more detailed information about research, postgraduate studies and seminars can be found there.

Support for ESD projects

Durham Global Challenges – Centre for Doctoral Training:
The Centre currently consists of a single cohort of 25 international PhD students, all citizens of a developing nation. Each student is undertaking a three year fully-funded PhD programme designed to identify steps towards a solution to a specific global challenge aligned with one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The students are all supervised by a multidisciplinary team of academic staff reflecting the complex and wide-ranging nature of these global challenges.


Research is mapped by Themes including Energy and Clean Growth

Research Projects Mapped to UN Sustainable Development Goals -

Education for Sustainable Development Actions

We are enabling students to be global citizens & leaders who will ensure delivery of the SDGs either through their career choices or entrepreneurial ventures that will contribute to economic growth. We have developed Game Changer: a fast-paced, extra-curricular innovation programme using Design Thinking to find solutions to the SDGs. Its purpose is to foster ingenuity, creativity & innovative design to deliver environmentally, socially & economically sustainable solutions. Students work in teams to research SDGs, ideate, develop prototypes & compete in a pitching challenge. for more information visit the Game Changer Innovation Programme (

The Durham SOFI (Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces Centre for Doctoral Training) program (a PhD program based in Chemistry and Physics which aims to inspire students to solve solutions to problems in sustainability on an industrial scale), students have the chance to develop business ideas. Sphera is a company set up by PhD students as a result of the program and which reduces plastic waste by incorporating waste plastic in concrete and construction materials.

Access to Education

Fair access and excellent education for all: We welcome students from all backgrounds with merit and potential and we have robust systems in place to ensure our admissions process is fair and transparent. Our new Access Agreement 2019-20 agreed by the Office for Students (OfS) reaffirms our commitment to widening participation in higher education. We are proud to be investing £11.7million in outreach, student success, progression and evaluation activities over the year.

Durham Grant:
Home undergraduate students starting their studies in 2019/20, who do not already hold an undergraduate degree and whose household income is less than £25,000, are entitled to a Durham Grant of £2,000 in 2019/20. For more information on financial support please visit this webpage.


Our electricity is purchased through The Energy Consortium (TEC), which certify that 100% of our supply from EDF is backed by clean, renewable generation. To view the latest certificate, please click here.
An analysis of Carbon, Energy and Water Targets set out in the Action Plan was undertaken in January 2020 and reported to the ESSPG in February 2020; view the presentation and summary here.
Carbon Management Plans

Staff and Student Engagement - Energy Campaigns are run throughout the year. Please visit the Energy Webpage.

Waste and Recycling

Waste Management Policy For more information on our campaigns and recycling procedures, please visit our Waste Webpage.