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Durham University

Durham University News


Durham a world top 100 university for sustainability

(21 April 2021)

Students in Botanic Gardens

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. 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.
  • Supporting water conservation on campus and using renewable technologies such as ground source heat pumps and solar panels.
  • Ensuring our new buildings, and any refurbishment works, meet rigorous sustainability targets.
  • 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 on our 10-hectare Botanic Garden.
  • Promoting a range of conservation events across the year such as ‘Water Awareness Week’ and ‘Walking Month’.
  • Ensuring food served on campus is sustainably sourced.
  • Supporting sustainable travel, biodiversity and nature conservation with our £6.5m Infrastructure Improvements project.


Research for the future

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 ensure the SDGs are realised across the world.

As part of The Water Hub partnership, we have experts working with communities and government agencies on water security and sustainable water use (supporting SDG6 ‘Clean water and sanitation’).

Researchers in our engineering department are looking at everything from how to protect soil health (supporting SDG15 ‘Life on land’) to how to speed up the use of wind energy in Africa.

Durham Energy Institute is the hub for energy research at Durham and undertakes interdisciplinary research into energy decarbonisation (supporting SDG7 ‘Affordable and clean energy’).

Find out more