Sustainable research practices

We are a research-led institution. Our research can and does help to advance the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This can be evidenced by our University ranking in the top ten universities in the world by the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2021 against the UN SDG Goal 1: No Poverty.

We are at the forefront of work around climate action, biodiversity, sustainable food and the circular economy. We will also continue to be a key enabler and supportive trusted partner in delivering sustainability both regionally, nationally and internationally. You can read more about our research and the work of the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme, Sussex Energy Group, STEPS Centre and others in our dedicated sustainability research web pages.

Yet, despite the enormous benefits we deliver through our sustainability research programme, we want to do more to demonstrate global leadership in how we embed sustainability in our research practices, both among fellow researchers and amongst our stakeholders.

We will do this by consulting with our academic community on how best to pioneer and further embed sustainable research techniques and good practice in all of our research methodology courses, grant funding proposals, research ethics applications and research projects in all disciplines by December 2023.

We will aim to include all stages of the research projects, from conception to monitoring, reporting and evaluation, with a focus on material consumption, energy use, transport and mobility, and advocacy and knowledge sharing.

We will also consult with our academic community this year on how best to monitor the sustainability impacts of our research projects from September 2022 (both activities and outcomes). And we will set progressive targets from September 2023 for environmental impact reduction and improved sustainability performance every five years, while maintaining a proportionate admin burden.

We also recognise the risks that can be associated with certain laboratories in relation to the use of hazardous chemicals, single-use disposable consumables and energy- and water-hungry equipment. We want to guard against any unnecessary environmental impacts without compromising on the overarching net societal benefits of our research. That is why we are committing to apply for sustainable lab accreditation through the LEAF scheme by August 2022.

As a leading research institution, ultimately we will actively advocate and facilitate change within the Higher Education sector and our stakeholder communities to embed sustainability in research and engagement in line with our key organisational value of collaboration.