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Sustainability Highlights Report 2021-22

Sustainability is embedded in the University of Leeds ten year strategy 'Universal Values, Global Change', which is rooted in our desire to make a difference in the world.

The strategy sets out our commitment to help shape a better future for humanity, working collaboratively to tackle inequalities, benefit society and drive change through delivery of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This highlight report provides a snapshot of some of the key achievements delivered in the 2021-22 academic year both through our own actions as the Sustainability Service and by the many people across our community who strive to deliver a more sustainable University. We extend our sincere thanks to them for their efforts in making sustainability second nature at the University of Leeds.

A full review of our performance against our sustainability commitments and ambitions can be found in the University’s integrated report and accounts.  You can also explore our 2021-22 news and blog posts to find out more about our activities and achievements through the year.


The themes addressed in our sustainability reporting reflect the economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of the University of Leeds and the issues and challenges where we know we can have the largest direct and indirect impact.

Not all sustainability issues and opportunities have the same potential to create lasting and measurable change. That’s why our chosen material topics are those that have, or can create, a real difference, bringing about the most impact across the University and beyond, to local, national, and international communities.

Our work is also guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and we review our material impact areas regularly, to ensure we stay relevant, impactful and able to make a significant difference.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN SDGs are a framework to achieve a sustainable future for all, covering everything from reducing inequalities, responsible consumption and production, enabling safe, sustainable cities and communities.

We are committed signatories to the SDG Accord. This is a global commitment for the education sector to embrace the critical role that education has in delivering the SDGs and sharing best practice and learnings, both nationally and internationally.

We are also signatories of the United Nations Global Compact, which encourages organisations to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, aligning with Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption, and with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation. We provide a biennial submission of a Communication on Engagement (COE).

2021-22 was a particularly significant year for sustainability at Leeds with the University's strategy for 2020-30 highlighting our role in making a difference in the world, alongside the publication of our Climate Plan and Pathway to Net Zero Emissions. As we transitioned out of the Covid-19 pandemic, we grew our sustainability engagement programme made up of Staff and Student Sustainability Architects and our Blueprint teams. We also expanded our work in the community, establishing a new community projects group and piloting new approaches to reducing waste in the inner north west Leeds area. As always, we are hugely grateful to our sustainability community at Leeds, whose dedication and drive are central to achieving our ambition.

Thom Cooper, Head of Sustainability

Read the 2021-22 highlights report

2021-22: Sustainability in Numbers

Explore the year in numbers.

2021-22: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

View our GHG emissions for 2021-22, as reported to HESA.

2021-22 News

Bodington Fields Natural Flood Management Site Completed

The official launch of a natural flood management site on Bodington Fields took place on 19th May. Located at the Brownlee Triathlon Centre in north Leeds, the site is the first of its kind in the UK. It will reduce flood risk in the area and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. Councillor...

The Big Plastic Count at Leeds - let's get counting!

As part of the #2023PlasticFree pledge we’re bringing the Big Plastic Count to Leeds from Monday 16 May. Get ready, get set, go - let’s get counting single use plastics together!   We’re working to eliminate single use plastic items from University of Leeds and Leeds University Union (LUU) operations as part of our #2023PlasticFree...

Climate Plan Student Challenge 2022

Do you have an idea that can address climate change at the University of Leeds? Take part in the Climate Plan Student Challenge!   What is the Climate Plan Student Challenge? The University of Leeds Climate Plan sets out how the University will play a part in the global efforts to tackle the climate crisis,...

View all 2021-22 news

2021-22 blog posts

The Big Plastic Count on Campus - what happens next?

In May 2022 the Big Plastic Count came to the University of Leeds, and we asked students and staff to report the single-use plastic that...

Behind the scenes at the 2022 Student Sustainability Research Conference

The 2022 Student Sustainability Research Conference was a great success! Student Sustainability Architect Eleanor shares her reflections on this year’s conference. If you missed the...

Meet the LUBS Student Sustainability Architects

Leeds University Business School (LUBS) are making significant impact in driving sustainability across the school. As part of their LUBS Blueprint plan they recruited no...

View all 2021-22 posts