Strategic commitment to sustainability

Questions about how we're progressing sustainability across the University and how our performance is measured.

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How exactly does UoL work towards greater sustainability?

We are committed to social, economic and environmental change at the University, which is why we have adopted a number of key policies and strategies to deliver on our sustainability ambitions. To ensure that we are consistent in how we tackle global challenges facing society and the environment, a robust governance structure monitors key performance indicators and our Environmental Management System (EMS) provides oversight of how we deliver against our policies and plans. Our ISO 14001 accredited EMS ensures the University complies with relevant legislation and continually reduces its environmental impacts and improves environmental performance. We are committed to addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and embedding social, economic and environmental sustainability into all of our operations. The University’s Delivery Plan provides a comprehensive suite of actions delivering against each core strategic theme of sustainability.

What is the University’s strategic commitment to sustainability?

Our Sustainability Strategy outlines how we are working in partnerships both locally and globally, we will address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, harnessing our strengths in research and education to drive forward the solutions and cultural change needed to move to a sustainable future. We’ll know we’re achieving our ambitions where they coalesce into three major targets around our estate, education, and combined research and sustainability work:

  • We will achieve net zero carbon by 2035 
  • We will reduce our waste by 50% by 2025 
  • Every student will have the opportunity to undertake a sustainability-related module, extra-curricular activity, or learning by 2022 
How is the University’s sustainability performance measured?

As part of the University’s commitment to embedding social, economic and environmental sustainability into every aspect of its operations, we are committed to reporting our performance and measuring the effect of what we do, to gauge the success of our strategies. Our performance is monitored internally through our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and also through external bodies, such as People & Planet, a comprehensive and independent league table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance. Our annual report provides a retrospective of our performance over the previous academic year and our progress towards achieving the aims and objectives set out in our environmental policy, sustainability policy and sustainability strategy. Click to find out how we’re performing.






How does the University rank in performance league tables?

• The University is ranked 72nd amongst 1,115 institutions in its first entry into the The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for 2021 
• Since 2020, we have risen over 50 paces in People & Planet's 2021 University League from a 3rd class to 2:1 class sustainable university.
• We are classed as 'leading the way' on committing to and delivering ambitious carbon reduction targets to tackle the climate emergency by SOS-UK.

Who is responsible for decision making?

The University Council, in partnership with Liverpool Guild of Students, has overarching responsibility for ensuring that the University meets its SDG Accord commitments. The Senior Leadership Team has overarching responsibility for the University's Sustainability Policy and receives quarterly updates from the Sustainability Board. The Sustainability Board, chaired by Director of Finance, Nicola Davies oversees the development of a Sustainability Strategy, which aims to help address all the UN SDGs and brings together the work from several working groups into a holistic framework

In June 2021, the Strategic Change Department was commissioned by the Chair of the Sustainability Board to oversee the development of the action plans and embed sustainability principles and practices into the everyday business of the University and our partners. The Strategic Change Team support the governance, planning, project and change management necessary to deliver our ambitions.

Visit the Sustainability Governance page for information on how our governance structure embeds sustainability into culture and practice, and further details on the Sustainability Project Team.


How will the University reach its 2035 Net Zero Carbon target?

The University's Climate plan sets out our ambitions, principles, and commitments in relation to addressing the climate crisis and outlines how we are going to move forward in developing our pathway to achieving net zero by 2035. With key activities already underway, the Climate plan will help us transition to net zero at pace and with real impact.

Students Organising for Sustainability's (SOS UK) net zero ranking keeps track of how universities are driving down emissions. We are in the top tier and classed as 'leading the way' on committing to and delivering ambitious carbon reduction targets and The University’s energy and carbon performance is published in the Sustainability Annual Report and HESA Estate Management Return. Visit our Energy and Carbon pages to find out more.

How exactly are the SDGs embedded across the University?

We have embedded the UN SDGs as a unifying framework across the University, by harnessing our strengths in research and education to drive forward the solutions and cultural change needed to move to a sustainable future. Find out more about how we are engaging with each of the 17 UN SDGs and the alignment with the University's mission, for a detailed overview of how our teaching and learning, research and knowledge exchange, leadership, governance and professional services support each goal.

How does the University manage its financial investments?

Our Ethical Investment Policy commits the University to invest its funds on a socially responsible basis with due regard to environmental, social and governance issues. It adopts both the UN Principles for Responsible Investment to better align investors with the broader objectives of society and the UN Global Compact principles focusing on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.