Skip to content
How Plymouth earned its reputation as ‘The sustainable university’

How Plymouth earned its reputation as ‘The sustainable university’

The University of Plymouth has won a string of national and international awards for its pioneering research to reduce the impact of human activity on our planet and own commitment to maintain a sustainable campus. Now, it is spearheading a national campaign – endorsed by 140 UK universities - to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 and champion the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Does sustainability matter to you?

As a global society, we face a number of significant challenges which threaten our very existence. Overpopulation and overproduction have, among other things, contributed to climate change, deforestation and loss of biodiversity, while poverty, injustice and inequality cause harm and suffering throughout the world.

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development

More and more people are recognising the critical role that education has to play, not only in educating future decision makers with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to address these challenges, but also in conducting the research needed to develop innovative and alternative solutions. This includes students…

According to the latest National Union of Students (NUS) Sustainability Skills Survey Results , 92% of students here in the UK believe sustainability is something universities should actively promote and incorporate and 80% want their university to be doing more on sustainability.

Do you want to make a difference?

If you’re looking for a university that is committed to saving our planet, then look no further. The University of Plymouth’s growing number of accolades is evidence of its ongoing action to: create a sustainable campus; pioneer research solutions to sustainability challenges; and motivate the next generation of students to tackle sustainability issues.

“Universities are some of the most effective weapons in the UK’s climate and environmental armoury. Our research and expertise is behind the deep understanding of climate change as well as the technological advances driving decarbonisation and building resilience. We are also equipping graduates with the skills and determination we need to respond to the climate crisis, generating the leaders of tomorrow to deliver public and environmental good.”

Professor Judith Petts CBE University of Plymouth Vice-Chancellor

The University is ranked 9th in the UK (2021 People and Planet University League) and has been named as one of the top 25 institutions globally for its support of the UN SDGs (Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021).

23rd out of 1,100 universities overall

1st globally in relation to SDG 14: Life Below Water

9th worldwide in relation to SDG 17: partnerships for the goals

19th in the world in SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Top 50 globally for its work linked to SDG 7: affordable and clean energy

Top 50 worldwide for SDG 11: sustainable cities and communities

In 2019, its ground-breaking research and policy impact on microplastics pollution in the oceans was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. Efforts by the School of Nursing and Midwifery to introduce sustainability and climate change into nursing education won the 2018 Guardian University Award for Sustainability.

How Plymouth is bringing tangible change

Future Plymouth 2030 is a series of webinars exploring collaborative pathways to achieve low carbon, sustainable development, providing a platform for knowledge exchange and collaborative action.

The University has pledged to work towards net zero emissions by 2025. This is one of a number of climate commitments developed by the Universities UK (UUK) Climate Task and Finish Group, which was chaired by the University’s Vice-Chancellor and subsequently endorsed by 140 UK universities.

Plymouth’s sustainable campus contributes to change every day. On campus initiatives include: reusable cups at campus cafes; a map of water fountains for refills; Fairtrade and locally sourced food products; food composting from catering outlets; donating near-date food to local charities; LED lighting conversion projects ; smart building management systems; rainwater harvesting; passive ventilation; data driven analytics to reduce energy use; and renewable energy sources (e.g. solar panels).

For those students who want to be more proactive, there is an on-campus Beekeeping Group. Online students can also apply to participate in the NUS’ For Good initiative, conducting research or practical projects to support organisations that have real-life sustainability problems.

Ready to join a university of pioneers?

For over 150 years, the University of Plymouth has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through its education and research. From September 2022, you can join this exciting University and study from the comfort of your own home. The first two fully online courses to launch are an MSc Restorative Dental Science and MA International Relations: Security and Development. To find out more, contact….

Start something big today.

We’ll get in touch to discuss your area of interest and answer any questions. Just fill in the details below: