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The Sustainable Development Goals


There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs provide a blueprint for shared peace and prosperity for people and the planet. To become a leader in sustainability, Queen's University Belfast are committed to fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals within our teaching and research, as well as across all our operations.

Queen's University Belfast: fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals across all operations

Sustainable Development Goal 1

No Poverty

"End poverty in all its forms everywhere"- United Nations

  • Student financial support is available to students experiencing financial difficulties whilst studying and comprises two funds:
    • The Department for the Economy (DfE) Student Support Fund
    • The University’s Hardship Fund
  • Further support is provided through the Queen's Bursary and the Care Leavers Bursary.
Sustainable Development Goal 2

Zero Hunger

"End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture"- United Nations

  • 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.

Sustainable Development Goal 3

Good Health and Wellbeing

"Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages"- United Nations

  • 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

"Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all"- United Nations

  • 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.
Sustainable Development Goal 5

Gender Equality

"Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls"- United Nations

  • 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

"Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all"- United Nations

  • 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.

Sustainable Development Goal 7

Affordable and Clean Energy

"Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all"- United Nations

  • 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.

Sustainable Development Goal 9

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

"Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation"- United Nations

  • 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

"Reduce inequality within and among countries"- United Nations

  • 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

"Make cities and human settlements inclusuve, safe, resilient and sustainable"- United Nations

  • Queen’s University was awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award in 2020 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. 
Sustainable Development Goal 12

Responsible Consumption and Production

"Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns"- United Nations

  • 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.
  • The Food Fortress Scheme has been developed by Queen's researchers and is an internationally recognised World-leading risk management and feed quality assurance scheme.


Sustainable Development Goal 13

Climate Action

"Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts"- United Nations

  • 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. 
Sustainable Development Goal 14

Life Below Water

"Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development"- United Nations

  • 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. 
Sustainable Development Goal 15

Life on Land

"Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, provide access to justice fpr all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels"- United Nations

  • Queen’s University are committed to providing 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 2020are 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. 


Sustainable Development Goal 16

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

"Promote peaceful and inclusuve societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountabble and inclusive institutions at all levels"- United Nations

At Queen's, our focus is to create a peaceful and inclusive community for all our staff and students as well as the surrounding communities. We aim to promote a fair and just instituition, built upon strong academic, social and economic foundations.

  • Our MA Conflict Transformation and Social Justice is a programme that offers an interdisciplinary approach to understanding both conflict transformation and social justice working closely with The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute.
Sustainable Development Goals

Partnership for the Goals

"Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development"- United Nations

  • 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.
Sustainable Development Goal Fund
Sustainability Research
Sustainability Action