University in Shortlist for International Sustainability Award

A woman is cycling on a Woo bike outside of the University of Worcester Arena on a winter day

The University is a finalist for Sustainability Institution of the Year in the 2020 International Green Gown Awards held in July.

The Awards, run by EAUC (The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education), are open to any university or college across the world. They are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and supported by the UN, national governments and education bodies.

The University is up against universities in Australia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Mexico, Spain and Peru for the coveted international title. 

The University’s Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green CBE, said: “We are thrilled and very proud to have the honour of representing Britain and Ireland in the global awards for environmental sustainability. Universities have a particular responsibility for leadership as we educate so many who will be leading organisations throughout the country and the world. At Worcester we have earned First Class Honours in the annual green universities’ league for more than a decade. Students and staff have behaved so responsibly and innovated so imaginatively:  From consideration of greener approaches to development, to how we source our food, to promoting walking and cycling, to solar heating and power, we have done much – but there is still much to do. Everyone has a part to play in tackling the climate emergency, and this award is also a tribute to the work of our partners – particularly our Students’ Union and Worcester City Council  with whom we have worked so constructively for so many years to achieve our common goals to cut carbon emissions, protect and enhance our environment and help save our planet.”

The University was named the UK Sustainability Institution of the Year at the Green Gown Awards last year.  As winners of the UK Award, this qualified Worcester as a 2020 International Green Gown Awards Finalist. The Sustainability Institution of the Year award recognises sustained, whole-institution commitment and impact to becoming a sustainable organisation.

Winners will be announced on July 8 in a virtual ceremony as part of the United Nations High Level Political Forum.

This comes after the University was recently ranked in the top three UK universities for Quality Education, and the top 10 in the UK overall, in the prestigious Times Higher Education’s global University Impact Rankings.

The rankings highlight the contribution made by universities around the world to achieving the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the United Nations adopted in 2016.

Worcester also came among the top 10 in the UK in a number of other SDGs, including 5th for Sustainable Cities and Communities, which assessed the University’s contribution to helping the community be “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, and 6th for Climate Action.

The University, in close partnership with the Students’ Union, has pioneered many initiatives to promote sustainability over the last 15 years, including much improved recycling, promoting walking and cycling wherever possible, and practical changes such as introducing less energy intensive lighting and solar heated hot water. The University has built up an enviable record of sustainability and last year ranked in the top five in the most recent People and Planet University League, which measures sustainability performance at higher education institutions.

Other projects the University has recently been engaged in include piloting a community electric bike share scheme and working with Worcester Bosch to improve heating decisions in shared student housing.  A ‘white bag’ scheme sees the University working with a number of local partners to encourage recycling, by providing student landlords with free recycling receptacles, information and support, and training student volunteers to mentor their peers.  The University also holds an annual on-campus and city-based Go Green Week, with a range of sustainability and wellbeing activities.