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Sustainable Development Goals

Queen’s University Belfast are committed to becoming a leader in sustainability. To achieve this aim Queen's is striving to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals not just across teaching and research but also across our operations.

What are Queen's University doing to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals across our operations?

Sustainable Development Goal 2

Zero Hunger

  • Queen’s University offer a range of vegetarian and vegan food choices within our on-site cafes, and by Campus Food and Drink catering. 
  • Campus Food and Drink source the best seasonable produce from companies who are based locally and on the island of Ireland.  
  • The University is committed to providing as many Fairtrade products as possible and ensuring that they’re available throughout campus. Further, a range of events and fundraisers are hosted during Fairtrade Fortnight to raise awareness of the importance of Fairtrade.  

Click to see the Campus Food and Drink Sustainability Website and Food Policy 

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Sustainable Development Goal 3

Good Health and Wellbeing

Queen's University is committed to creating a compassionate culture that prioritises the wellbeing of its people. Our approach to Wellbeing at Queen's is organised under four key themes (Healthy Mind, Physical Health, Home Life and Be Connected) which are complemented by training and a wide range of events and activities. 


Sustainable Development Goal 4

Quality Education

  • Queen’s University are committed to providing world class buildings and facilitates to ensure high quality teaching and research can be undertaken within Queen’s.  
  • We are ranked in the top 173 global universities (QS World University Rankings 2020) and is part is part of an elite UK group of research-intensive universities, known as the Russell Group.  
  • A range of departments within Queen’s work with staff and local organisations to ensure our students gain the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to lead meaningful and impactful careers. This includes the Science ShopDegree Plus and Careers.  
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Sustainable Development Goal 5

Gender Equality

  • The University currently holds a prestigious Athena SWAN Silver Award, which is one of only 19 Silver Institutional Awards, along with 15 Departmental Awards (2 Gold, 7 Silver and 6 Bronze). 

Sustainable Development Goal 6

Clean Water and Sanitation

  • The Estates Directorate closely monitor the University’s intake of water and are committed to preventing pollution of waterways via our ISO14001 Certification, which ensures we follow the correct policies and procedure to prevent and reduce water pollution.  
  • All new buildings and refurbishments within Queen’s are designed to BREEAM Excellent or Very Good. This ensures there are water efficient designs that minimise water usage.  
  • Estates Directorate are continually working to improve the provision of free drinking water across campus for staff and students. To view available water fountains click here 
  • Responsible water consumption is actively promoted via Queen’s Sustainability Champion Network, and by working closely with NI Water to promote sustainable practices within Queen’s Accommodation.  

For more information on our sustainable construction practices please click here 

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Sustainable Development Goal 7

Affordable and Clean Energy

  • Queen’s University aims to become a low carbon university, and to help achieve this vision is the Carbon Management Plan which sets out plans to reduce carbon emission. The University outperformed the 21% reduction by 2020 target and decreased emissions by 22.71%. Currently, the Carbon Management Plan is being reviewed, and new targets, in line with Net Zero, will be created.  
  • A Green Revolving Fund has been established specifically to finance energy projects. Staff are regularly encouraged to contact Estates with any energy efficiency ideas.  
  • Regular energy audits are undertaken throughout campus to identify areas for improvement.  
  • Queen’s University is accredited with ISO50001 Certification, and closely monitors our energy consumption.  
  • All new buildings and refurbishments within Queen’s are designed to BREEAM Excellent or Very Good. For more information on our sustainable construction practices please click here. 
  • Researchers within Queen’s are involved in the national PCAN Project. The Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN) is about translating climate policy into action ‘on the ground’ in our communities – which includes energy efficiency projects within our communities.  

To date Queen’s has decreased emissions by over 11, 288 tonnes 

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Sustainable Development Goal 9

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

  • Excellence in research and innovation, and making a positive global impact, are central to what we do at Queen’s University. We aim to deliver social, economic and cultural benefits through our research. To find out more about research within Queen’s please click here 
  • Queen’s SU are committed to innovation and enterprise within our Student community. This is achieved via a range of projects and competitions including ‘Innovateher’, ‘What’s the Big Idea’ and many more. For more information click here 

Sustainable Development Goal 10

Reduced Inequalities

  • Queen’s University are committed to ensuring that those most able but least likely to participate in Higher Education should have an equal opportunity to do so. The Widening Participation Unit engages with students from a range of schools and age groups through a range of initiatives including Professor Fluffy, Reading Together, Junior Sports Academy and many more. 

Sustainable Development Goal 11

Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Queen’s University was awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award in 2019 The University achieved Green Flag status by complying with a range of criteria, including ensuring there is active community involvement and ensuring the site is welcoming.  
  • Queen’s University are committed to becoming a low carbon university, and to help achieve this image, is the Travel Plan. To view our Travel Plan please click here. 
  • All new buildings and refurbishments within Queen’s are designed to BREEAM Excellent or Very Good. For more information on our sustainable construction practices please click here. 
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Sustainable Development Goal 12

Responsible Consumption and Production

  • Campus Food and Drink have created a Food policy which ensures they source food sustainably and make every effort to minimise waste.  
  • Queen’s monitor the amount of waste generated, recycled and sent to landfill. Several initiatives have been created to prevent, and minimise, the amount of waste generated in Queen’s: Warp It, Coffee Cup incentives, Terracycle projects, Ban the Bin etc.  

Sustainable Development Goal 13

Climate Action 

  • Queen’s University are committed to reducing their impact by minimising their carbon outputs via the Carbon Management Plan. The University outperformed the 21% reduction by 2020 target and decreased emissions by 22.71%. Currently, the Carbon Management Plan is being reviewed, and new targets, in line with Net Zero, will be created. 
  • Responsible consumption is actively promoted via Queen’s Sustainability Champion Network to encourage staff and students to act for the environment.  
  • The Estates Directorate works with a range of local NGO’s to ensure Queen's is thinking, and acting, for our climate: Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, RSPB, Sustrans’s and The Conservation Volunteers NI.  
  • Queen's Student's Union has set up a Climate Action Group which has set out clear actions for the University, and provided an avenue for students to get involved in helping Queen’s limit its impact on the environment.  
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Sustainable Development Goal 14

Life Below water

  • Queen's Green Fund has provided funding for a range of projects focused at promoting, and acting, for sustainability and the environment. This includes the Marine Explorer’s Outreach Programme. 
  • To address Queen’s contribution to the global plastic programme, a Plastic Reduction Working Group has been set up to identify, and minimise, single use plastic items.  
  •  A range of speakers have been invited to discuss Life Below Water, and what we can do to protect it. This includes Ulster Wildlife and NI Water. 
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Sustainable Development Goal 15

Life on Land

  • Queen’s University are committed to ensuring they provide a home for wildlife within our campus, and are doing so by implementing a Biodiversity Policy and Action Plan 
  • A range of ‘Nature and Nurture’ Initiatives have been undertaken within Queen’s with staff, students and the local community continually encouraged to suggest further initiatives which aim to enhance biodiversity within our campus.  Current initiatives include Lennoxvale Tree Nursery, Litter-Picks, Green Fund Projects and Staff Gardens.  
  • We are compliant with Environmental Legislation, and have received ISO 14001 Certification.  
  • Queen’s has partnered with several NGO’s to ensure we are continually aiming to enhance wildlife within Queen’s. We were awarded The Green Flag in 2019are currently working towards bronze in the Campus Friendly Hedgehog Award, and are actively taking part in the Belfast Million Trees Initiative. Further, work is be undertaken to ensure Queen’s can take part in the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. 
  • All new buildings and refurbishments within Queen’s are designed to BREEAM Excellent or Very Good. For more information on our sustainable construction practices please click here. 
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Sustainable Development Goal 17

Partnership for the Goals

  • The University works with a range of local NGO's to determine areas where they can minimise their impact on the environment, and aid Queen's in implementing initiatives to address impacts. Organisations include Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, RSPB, Sustran's and The Conservation Volunteers NI.