Sustainability & Social Responsibility

For our community at the University of Birmingham, Sustainability is about using our available resources and living in a way today that provides the needs for us all to live a happy and healthy life, without preventing future generations' ability to do the same.

We recognise that the world as it functions today is not achieving this, and international efforts are being made to create a society that is more sustainable, aiming to achieve the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the process.

It is vital we use our position as a global civic university, with world-leading research, and an institution proud to educate the workforce of the future, to combat the climate crisis. This is why we have declared a climate emergency.

We have created a clear strategy for how to create a more sustainable university and world, and have demonstrated this commitment throughout our 2030 Strategic Framework, including having 'Sustainability' as one of the six pillars.

Our contributions to sustainability as a civic and global University so far include:

  • Signing a Civic University Agreement with Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority, demonstrating our commitment to the region.
  • Providing important wellbeing services including our programme with Pause, delivered in partnership with Forward Thinking Birmingham.
  • Commiting to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion charters including Race Equality, The Diversity Forum, and Athena Swan.
  • Reducing our operations' carbon emissions by 20% since 2005/6 baseline, with a Net Zero Carbon Commitment of 2045.
  • We are signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. We have reduced our investment in fossil fuels to just 0.22% of the University’s Investment Assets as of November 2022 compared to 10% in 2018, and fully expect this to reduce further with investment fund changes in the coming months.

  • We are planning a programme of events in Birmingham and Dubai as part of COP28 (Dubai 2023)

Whilst we celebrate this brilliant work, we acknowledge there is still far to go and we continue to develop as an institution whose work continues to be impactful and creates a world that is healthy for all. One of our biggest tasks in this space right now is our commitment to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2035 (Scope 1 and 2) and 2045 (Scope 3). We are working hard on a Roadmap to Net Zero that we believe can achieve this ambitious target.

This page signposts the University's sustainability work, from our operations to our curriculum and our research. Use the categories below to explore.

 

Taking responsibility

We have set clear targets for what we need to do as a global civic instituion to tackle the climate crisis. It is important, however, for external bodies to assess our targets and our effectiveness at achieving them to make sure we are committed to our promises. There are many different types of audits Higher Education can undergo to assess this, of which a more detailed list can be found in our auditing report that also descibes why there are some league tables and audits we do not opt-in to.

Some key League Tables the University of Birmingham features in:

  • QS World University Rankings on SDGs
  • People and Planet
  • Athena Swan

Get in touch

Have you visited our Sustainable Operations page? This includes information on the work we are doing on campus and beyond. If you still have any questions or would like to get in touch, please email us at sustainability@contacts.bham.ac.uk. Alternatively, Staff and Students can use our internal communications guide.

There are opportunities to get involved in sustainability initiatives at the University of Birmingham whether you are a student, member of staff, or a member of the public. Visit our Get Involved page for information on joining these initiatives and networks.

Sustainability news

University of Birmingham Hosts Dragon’s Den Innovation Event for Net Zero Carbon Lodges

Square redbrick building with arched doorway and dormer windows
Description:
Climate innovators from across the region came to the University of Birmingham to pitch ideas and solutions for a new Net Zero Carbon Lodge project.
Date:
28 March 2023

Dr James Levine named New UK Treescapes Fellow

Description:
Dr James Levine has been named one of the new UK Treescapes fellows - looking to answer some key questions surrounding Treescape Expansion in the UK.
Date:
06 February 2023

Deep education reforms needed to get youth more engaged in climate action

Three people on stools
Description:
Experts call on global educators to give youth more opportunities to ‘break new ground’ during studies
Date:
18 January 2023

Professor Frank Uekötter discusses monoculture in the Guardian

Cotton harvesting
Description:
Professor Uekötter talked to the Guardian about sustainable food production.
Date:
21 November 2022
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