England’s University of Worcester is very much a sustainable seat of learning. Ten years ago it became the first institution in the country to be awarded EcoCampus Platinum status, and last year was crowned Sustainability Institution of the Year in the annual Green Gown Awards.
Now Barclays, a winner in our 2018 Global Goals awards, has agreed a £2m Green Asset Finance fund that will allow Worcester to accelerate its Green campus ambitions. The bank is currently helping the university improve its energy efficiency and reduce waste; with electric vehicles, charging points and solar panels among the ‘next step’ initiatives planned.
“Successive University strategic plans have emphasised the importance of sustainability and inclusion in all we do. This has been empowering for students, staff and partners,” said Professor David Green CBE, the University’s Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive. “Of course, this needs sustained, scientifically informed investment. We are delighted that Barclays, our long-standing partner, has approached us to enable us to progress even more rapidly in becoming carbon neutral.”
Momentum at Worcester is indicative of the progress universities in England – and across the UK – are making. Last December some of the UK’s leading institutions published a joint statement pledging to do more to lever their influence to impact the sustainability agenda. The 24 institutions – part of the influential Russel Group – signed the Environmental Sustainability document committing to tackle ‘climate change through research, teaching and more sustainable practices’.
“Climate change and environmental sustainability are some of the most pressing global challenges facing the world today,” said Joanna Burton, Policy Manager at the Russell Group. “As some of the largest universities in the UK, we not only have a responsibility to show leadership and play our part in the global response to climate change, but are uniquely placed to help deliver a more sustainable future for all – through world-class teaching and research, as well as more sustainable practices. To support and enhance their efforts, a new Environmental Sustainability Network has been established to take a strategic look at opportunities for Russell Group universities to work together and have an even greater impact.”
Joanna added: “It starts with what we teach. The future will be in the hands of young people, and all universities know there is demand from students to learn more about climate and environmental issues through their studies. Russell Group universities teach a quarter of all undergraduates in the UK. All 24 of our universities have worked with their students to ensure every single one has access to a range of opportunities to learn about sustainability, for example through student-led societies, Green Impact projects and volunteering opportunities.”