University of the West of Scotland’s (UWS) long-standing commitment to sustainability has been boosted this week – with Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Craig Mahoney signing the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Accord on behalf of the institution.

In signing the SDG Accord, universities and colleges commit to reporting annually on their work towards embedding the UN Sustainability Goals within their institutions, through learning and teaching, research, leadership, operations and engagement activities.

More than 200 universities and colleges worldwide have signed up to the Accord.

Professor Mahoney said: “In signing the SDG Accord, UWS is again showing its commitment to creating a better future for all. Sustainability in all forms is at the heart of UWS. In our Strategy 2025, we have set ourselves the goal of being carbon neutral by 2040; something I am confident we will achieve through our inspiring campuses and the commitment of our students and staff.”

Professor Mahoney continued: “We are also dedicated to making higher education accessible to all, with a range of initiatives and activities on offer to ensure that no one faces barriers to further their learning. Creating a sustainable world relies on the voices, ideas and experiences of people from a range of different backgrounds, and UWS will continue to ensure that we’re helping those leaders of tomorrow to find their place in the world.”

The UN Sustainability Goals were introduced in 2015 as a set of 17 ambitions designed to tackle poverty, inequality and to take action on climate change.

UWS is leading the way in its sustainability work in Scotland, having won a series of awards in recent years, including a prestigious Green Gown Award and Guardian University Award.

The Sustainability Goals are central to the University’s operations, influencing ideas and initiatives including the provision of free sanitary products, free gym memberships for students, widening access work to enable more students from the poorest backgrounds to access higher education, and ongoing commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

The University’s £110 million Lanarkshire campus is one of the greenest educational environments in the country. The campus, which opened in 2018, is powered by 100% renewable energy from nearby Blantyre Muir windfarm and features rainwater harvesting technology meeting 89% of campus water demand, photovoltaic panels, sustainable food initiatives such as coffee beans roasted on-site, sustainable cleaning regimes without using chemicals and with methods that reduce water and energy, and a range of sustainable travel initiatives including cycle facilities, electric vehicle charging points, a car share scheme and enhanced public transport provision.