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Students help steer University’s new Sustainability Project


Sustainability Project launch audience members

University of Bradford commits to UN’s sustainability goals ahead of COP26

As world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow for COP26, the University of Bradford has launched its new Sustainability Project.

A delegation of students and staff will attend COP26 on Friday November 5, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon has signed up to the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Students, staff and other stakeholders also took part in a round-table discussion at the launch event on Wednesday October 27, producing dozens of suggestions to help make the University more sustainable.

Sustainability Project launch

Making a difference

Opening the conference, Professor Congdon said: “Our vision is a world of equality and opportunity where everyone can and wants to make a difference, and we want to be that place to make that difference. We are truly committed to inclusion and social mobility.

“The world is not an equal place: where you live makes a difference, as do your personal characteristics - that often leads to less  opportunities and prosperity. Inequality is  structural… and whilst there have been extensive efforts to promote sustainability in urban ecosystems and physical infrastructures, less attention has been given to neighbourhood inequality and the capacity of cities to solve environmental challenges. Low-income communities, minority ethnic groups and migrant communities continue to experience many forms of climate injustice.

“Here at the University, we produce knowledge, and apply it to address all of the United Nations Sustainability Goals. We are supporting the development of the current and next generations of champions and warriors on sustainability. If we care about our planet, we can take systematic action by embodying sustainability in everything we do.”

Small steps

Part of the University’s sustainability pledge will involve saving energy, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, saving water, reducing food waste, recycling and reusing more materials, and spreading awareness.

Examples could include things like rainwater harvesting, promoting organic food and ecologically-sound brands including Fairtrade and Zero Negativity clothing, and spreading awareness.

Stuart McKinnon-Evans, chief financial officer and the man leading the project, said: “This is about behaviour change, the way we think and expect things to be - the way we make decisions, and the small as well as the large steps we take, will determine how successful we are not just here but on the planet. It is important to hang onto the fact that we create knowledge and help people make informed, evidence-based choices.”

News of the initiative follows a commitment made by Bradford Council to support sustainability issues and the green economy. It also builds on work done under a previous ‘Ecoversity’ initiative, which began in 2005.

Long term goals

Prof PB Anand

Professor Prathivadi Anand, an expert in sustainability, who led the organisation of the event and who will also attend COP26, added: “Our University is an official observer organisation, which means we have the right to participate in this and all future COP meetings and contribute to discussions, including commenting on draft circulations.

“People may think that once heads of state disappear after the weekend, it’s over but this is a long term commitment - it’s something we have been working on for several years and  something we will be engaged in for many more.”

For the next two weeks, Prof Anand will be posting articles about COP26 on his LinkedIn account.

Prof Amir Sharif, Dean of the Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences, who will be one of those attending COP26, quoted polar explorer Robert Swan OBE in his address.

He said: “Robert Swan said ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.’ This is about action. You being here is an action, joining the University’s Sustainability Society is an action, your thoughts and contributions here is an action, being a student at University of Bradford is an action. Small steps are as important as the large ones.”

How can you get involved?

You can get involved in the project by joining the University’s Sustainability Society.

On Wednesday November 3, between 1100 and 1500, there will be a ‘Pedal for the Planet’ event, with cycles placed in the Atrium - the goal is to cycle 260 miles (the distance from here to Glasgow). There will also be a talk at 1530 entitled Are we climate smart?

Over the coming weeks, months and years, a range of events and initiatives will be launched as part of the University’s Sustainability Project.