UN Sustainable Development Goals

sustainable development goals

What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global framework to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They recognise that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, equalities and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection, peace and justice.



Climate Plan

The University of Leeds is calling for staff and students to contribute towards the University Climate Plan.

Leeds cityscape

What is the University doing about the Climate Crisis?

In September, the University of Leeds confirmed its role as an international leader in climate research and innovation by releasing its 7 bold principles to address the climate crisis. This includes divestment from traditional use of fossil fuels, a commitment to a 2030 net-zero carbon footprint target, and a drive to achieve no direct carbon emissions by 2050.

What is the Climate Plan?

The Climate Plan is an operational action plan that will guide staff and students on delivering the 7 Principles. As well as net-zero by 2030, we’ll encourage net-zero where we have influence, use research to find solutions and ensure our students can learn about the climate crisis. View the draft plan below. The plan is currently being finalised for launch in March 2020.

The Draft Plan

Explore the tabs below presenting the draft plan.

If you want to get involved, email Sustainability@leeds.ac.uk

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Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this opportunity align with?

This opportunity aligns with all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular goals 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 13 (Climate Action) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). For more information on the goals visit sustainabledevelopment.un.org.

Living Lab Project Call: Single-use plastics at the University of Leeds

Following the University’s recent pledge to become single-use plastic free and the launch of the #2023PlasticFree campaign, Leeds Living Lab has funding available to support research and innovation projects that seek solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics across the University of Leeds (UoL) and Leeds University Union (LUU). Applications are open until Friday 1st February 2019.

UoL and LUU have together pledged to become single-use plastic free by 2023, with catering and office spaces achieving the target by 2020 and additional years to address more challenging areas such as laboratory equipment.

Collaboration and the use of the University as a test-bed are at the heart of the Leeds Living Lab and these funds will be used to provide match funding and seedcorn funding in support of projects which seek solutions to single-use plastics across the University through academic and non-academic partnerships.

Applications will be assessed by members of the Sustainability Steering Group based on the following criteria:

  1. Fit to the principles of the Leeds Living Lab
  2. Alignment with the University’s Sustainability Strategy
  3. Potential to support the University’s single-use plastic pledge
  4. Quality of potential outputs and impacts

We welcome applications led by University of Leeds academics, students (including UG, PG and PhD), research staff (including postdoctoral researchers), and professional and managerial staff across all Schools and Services of the University, and particularly those that develop new interdisciplinary collaborations. Students must have the permission of their supervisor to make the application.

Funding is split into the following two categories:


  1. Collaborative research project seedcorn or match funding

Funding is available for research and/or trials of innovative solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics across the University of Leeds. This might include but is not limited to development of new materials, assessment and analysis of current practices, behavioral studies, and tests or trials of innovative solutions.

Funding requested must not exceed £2000 and cannot be used to pay overheads.

Please complete the application form at http://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/the-living-lab/ and return by email to plasticfree@leeds.ac.uk before midnight on Friday 1st February 2019.


  1. Student curricular project grants (i.e. a dissertation or assessed project as part of an UG/PG module)

Funding is available to support student projects focused on solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics across the University of Leeds. This might include but is not limited dissertations or assessed work on the development of new materials, assessment and analysis of current practices, behavioral studies, and tests or trials of innovative solutions.

Funding requested must not exceed £500 and students must ensure that they have the permission of their supervisor before applying.

Please complete the application form at http://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/the-living-lab/ and return by email to plasticfree@leeds.ac.uk before midnight on Friday 1st February 2019.

All enquiries should be directed to plasticfree@leeds.ac.uk



Practice-led PhD Research Installation – ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’

Practice-led PhD Research Installation

‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ is an inquiry into the feelings that arise from being affected by climate change – and from knowing that we are affecting climate.  It is an invitation to an inquiry into making sense of climate change responsibility.  In a shared exploration of paintings and video made during the artist’s PhD research, you are invited to participate in making the art ‘work’ through reflection and dialogue.

Please email to book as places are limited – mail@carolekirk.com

Living Lab


The Living Lab drives the University’s commitment to embedding sustainability through knowledge, engagement, collaboration and innovation. It brings together students, academic and operational staff to research and test sustainable solutions, enhance our curriculum and tackle global challenges at a local scale, using the University as a test bed.

Whether it is a research-led campus design adapting to climate change, trialling new sustainability initiatives, or integrating wellbeing and biodiversity, we encourage staff and students from all Schools and Services across the University to get involved with the Living Lab.

Read about our first year of activities Leeds Living Lab:_One year on’




FAQs >>



Student Conference on Sustainable Futures 2017

On Friday 3rd February 2017, The University of Leeds hosted its first Student Conference on Sustainable Futures – Sustainable Perspectives on Future Challenges. The event highlighted the rich diversity of sustainability research and curricular projects, from students at all levels, across all disciplines.
With over 100 delegates and 40 student presenters representing every faculty, the day was filled with a medley of posters, talks and conversation workshops covering such topics as; using biomimicry to reduce the need for unsustainable textile dyes, integrating low carbon energy solutions for remote rural areas, analysing extinction rates in marine micro-organisms, and tackling social inequalities in accessing higher education.
To open the event Professor Tom Ward – Deputy Vice Chancellor for Student Education, delivered an inspiring introduction to the importance of embedding sustainability at Leeds and its place in everyone’s lives. He commented –
“This agenda will shape your future, be part of the sustainability society.”

Following a quick coffee and with twitter hashtags at the ready, attendees made their way to Parkinson Court where student’s posters, art pieces, and digital presentations were being displayed. It was amazing! Engineers were talking with artists, biologists  conversing with sociologists, business students debating with geographers. The room was echoing with collaborative discussions.
The exhibition was open all day, drawing in passer-bys with photos of Antarctic expeditions, videos of magnified crystals depicting Earth’s finite resources, and posters detailing some of the future global challenges we face.

A busy hour of oral presentations was next on the agenda, kicking off with sessions covering aspects of sustainability within Cities, Communication, Society, and Biodiversity. Ample time for questions from the audience allowed discussions to breathe and gave presenters an insight into the minds of non-specialists on their subject.

A vegetarian feast of locally sourced, low carbon grub provided by Great Food at Leeds, awaited the rumbling stomachs of the conference crowd. The delicious spread hit the spot and attracted hugely positive feedback (the brie and cranberry wontons went down a treat!)

Conversation sessions brought an interactive element to the day, with ‘Re(act) on Sustainability’ getting people out of their chairs and expressing the complexities of sustainable behaviors through performance art. Down the hallway, the ‘Community engagement within the curriculum’ workshop explored the benefits and challenges of sustainability in the community and peoples thoughts on how this can be expanded.

Afternoon oral sessions continued with familiar themes of Communication, and Society, but were also joined by Innovation and Technology, Food and Agriculture, and Governance and Policy. Such varying and fascinating presentations saw people struggling to decide which to attend! From the role of sustainable menstrual products for female empowerment, to present challenges in connecting Indian farmers, and exploring young consumers perceptions of fast fashion.

The awards ceremony, to celebrate the exemplary posters submitted to the conference, brought the day to a close. Head of Sustainability at the University of Leeds, Dr. Louise Ellis, gave a roundup of the fantastic work from the day and praised the diversity and delivery of student’s projects.

Professor Lisa Roberts – Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation lead the awards ceremony. Winners and highly recommended awards went to:

Most Original Concept
Highly Commended
Mary Loveday Edwards

‘The Use of Nostalgia at the Ideation Stage of Permaculture Design’
Clare Martynski

‘The Role of Performance and Live Art in Transforming World views’

Most Effective Visuals
Highly Commended
Katie Thomas

‘People and Nature In Harmony? Understanding a Consumer Ethical Dilemma’
Ana Perez
‘What We Know Affects What We Do – Exploring Fashion Sustainability and its Perception by Young Consumers’
Best Conference Poster
Highly Commended
Vishnu Sunil Kumar

‘To Tree or Not to Tree? Assessing Carbon Stock Distribution Along an Altitudinal Gradient in the Western Ghats’
Rizwana Alam 

‘The Governance of Urban Green Spaces: Challenges and a Way Forward to Sustainable Development’

Lisa concluded with a call to action to all who attended the conference, encouraging collaborative discussions, and to keep conversations in the fore regarding how research at Leeds must continue to address the key social, economic and environmental challenges of our time.

A huge thank you to all who were a part of the day. It was fantastic to see such a diverse turn out. We already looking forward to next year!

For more information on the Student Conference on Sustainable Futures, including posters and highlights of the day, please CLICK HERE

Student Conference on Sustainable Futures 2017


In February 2017, Leeds University will be hosting its first Student Conference on Sustainable Futures. This unique opportunity, open to Leeds students at any level, from all disciplines, will showcase research, projects and creativity which aligns with the conference theme – Sustainable Perspectives on Future Challenges. This might include innovative work in carbon reduction or urban development, challenges in healthcare, social equality, policy and governance, international trade, sustainable energy, the circular economy, food security or any topic which has a positive impact in society.

The conference will consist of a poster exhibition in Parkinson Court, along with oral presentations taking place in morning and afternoon sessions. Projects which take the form of a music, dance, spoken word performance, art installation or practical demonstration will also be hosted in suitable locations throughout the day.

For more information on the conference programme, CLICK HERE
To register to attend, CLICK HERE 

Sustainability Research Slam

Come along to an evening of nibbles and networking, to hear about the breadth of student research relating to Sustainability that goes on at University.

Listen to students at all stages talk about their research in 5-minute bursts, and chat to like-minded people!

If you’re interested in speaking (no powerpoints allowed!), for 5-8 minutes on your research, please email Catherine at c.a.graves@leeds.ac.uk with your name, department, (UG/PG/PGR), and an outline of your topic.

Networking from 17:30
Talks from 18:00