City addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goals through research, education and engagement.

By Eve Lacroix(Communications Officer), Published (Updated )

City, University of London has published the third annual edition of its Global Goals Report.

The report presents case studies about how City is responding to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which form a commitment to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity.

Taking a wide-lens approach to the SDGs, the report highlights five key themes: research, education, engagement, campus and governance.

Sustainability was announced as a key component of City’s corporate strategy last year, and the University aims to embed sustainability into its research, teaching and corporate governance.

As part of this drive, City appointed Professor Richard Ashcroft as the Executive Dean for Sustainability in December 2022 to represent the area within the senior leadership team.

Professor Sir Anthony Finkelstein, President of City, said:

Last year, sustainability was put at the forefront of our new strategy as an integral part of our Culture workstream. This reaffirmed our commitment to delivering our net-zero target by 2040, alongside a sustainability strategy.

Although we have much to do, I feel confident that the University is taking positive action to address one of the most significant issues of our time.

Eleanor Simes, Head of Sustainability at City, said:

The report showcases some of the great work our students and colleagues are doing to help deliver the Global Goals, often working in national and international partnerships.

With the newly appointed Executive Dean for Sustainability in place, we are in a great position to move forward with our sustainability ambitions as set out in City’s new strategic vision.

Delivering our target of achieving net zero by 2040 will be challenging, but with the expertise and commitment we have at City I look forward to sharing our progress towards decarbonisation over the coming years.

Tackling climate change through research

City academics from a broad spectrum of disciplines have been researching solutions to tackle global challenges.

Highlights have included Dr Christian Reynolds’ recommendations in food policy, food expiry labels and plastic packaging, which have been adopted by supermarkets, and Dr Susan Hill’s research into the causes of biodiversity loss and responses to overfishing.

Woman choosing food in a supermarket

Developing skills through study and training placements

The UN Global Goals have been integrated into the curriculum, with students learning through practical internships and study placements.

Alumna Alyssa Herman (MSc Management, 2023) was one of the Bayes Business School students who took part in a Corporate Responsibility study placement with CBRE, the Fortune 500 real estate company, for whom she now works full-time. She said:

I wanted to make an impact and accelerate climate action.

With the knowledge and experience I gained from my placement I am now helping my firm and clients to improve and strengthen sustainability practices for their businesses.

Further afield, City’s Law School has contributed to training South Africa’s next generation of human rights lawyers, who will play a vital role in ensuring the UN’s Global Goals commitments are delivered to the social groups that need it most.

Stuart Lindsay, Simone Start and Nikki Walsh from The City Law School delivering a human rights law training programme in Johannesburg.
Stuart Lindsay, Simone Start and Nikki Walsh from The City Law School delivering a human rights law training programme in Johannesburg.

Stuart Lindsay, Simone Start and Nikki Walsh from The City Law School delivered a four-day immersive training programme in Johannesburg. By August 2022, 100 young lawyers from 20 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had completed the programme.

Governance and campus

As well as contributing to sustainability challenges through education and research, City believes in leading by example by reducing the negative impact of operations and development of its campus and has made a commitment to achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2040.

City’s Students’ Union was also named ‘Excellent’ in the National Union of Students (NUS) Green Impact Awards, the highest accreditation that can be achieved.

Gesmina Tsourrai, President of City’s Students’ Union, said:

It is everyone's responsibility to care about our planet.

This year we will lead by example and make the changes we all need for an enriching and equitable future for everyone.

Student in City's walled garden
Student in City's walled garden

The Students’ Union launched the Reuse, Reduce & Research, and hosted a series of events such as a second-hand clothing “kilo sale” and gardening sessions in the Walled Garden to encourage sustainable practices.

To learn more, read the report here or view previous reports here.

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