These European Universities score highest in delivering SDGs

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Nowadays, the world is faced with numerous challenges – from excessive pollution and environmental threats to inequality. On a journey to a safer and more prosperous world, national and local leaders rely on a long-term agenda and targets which are universally accepted.

In this regard, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are extremely valuable, as they provide worldwide guidance for addressing the issues that the international community is confronting on a global scale. The SDGs are designed to address the most pressing global challenges, and they support social as well as economic development.

According to the World Economic Forum, adopting global goals enables people, groups, and governments all around the world to concur on a course of action. Moreover, when ambitious goals are set, communities of experience and knowledge come together to suggest realistic strategies to achieve results.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which were formally endorsed by world leaders during the historic UN Summit in September 2015, went into effect on January 1, 2016. All key global players must participate in advancing this global agenda since the SDGs are the collective blueprint for the future of the world.

According to SDSN Northern Europe, the Nordic chapter of the global SDSN, universities play a special and crucial role in assisting the world in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Through their research, teaching, operations, and community leadership, they possess enormous potential to be crucial drivers of the SDG agenda’s acceleration at all levels of governance.

In today’s rapidly changing world, knowledge is the primary engine of growth and is essential in order to have prosperous societies. Given that many new ideas in science and technology originate in universities, in order to achieve the sustainable development goals faster, universities can truly serve as the driving force.

Times Higher Education is a British magazine that focuses solely on news and topics pertaining to higher education. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings is also the biggest and most inclusive list of universities in the world. This publication also releases annual rankings that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The fourth edition of the Impact Rankings, which comprises 1,406 universities from 106 countries and regions, was released in 2022. Universities are permitted to contribute information on as many of these SDGs as they can, and the performance of the university in relation to each SDG is measured using a set of metrics. Both the overall ranking and the results for each specific SDG are provided.

In the 2022 Rankings, Newcastle University came on top. The institution, located in the center of one of the most vibrant student cities in the UK, is ranked first in Europe and eighth worldwide for its remarkable commitment to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. By 2030, Newcastle University aims to have net-zero carbon dioxide emissions.

University of Manchester is the second-highest ranked European university. The University of Manchester provides more than 1,000 degree programs in the fields of business, engineering, science, and humanities. The university, which was also placed first in the Impact Rankings for 2021, states on their website that their environmental sustainability vision is to use their ‘’full range of knowledge and influence’’ to build a world that is environmentally sustainable.

‘’The impact we have through our research, students, processes and engagement can help lead the way to a truly sustainable world, from the heart of Oxford Road to the very edge of the universe,’’ the University of Manchester stated on their official website.

University of Glasgow came third in the 2022 Impact Rankings. The University of Glasgow made history in 2014 when it became the first university in the UK to announce that it would stop using fossil fuels in ten years. It unveiled a new plan in 2021 to reduce carbon emissions from business travel by 7.5 percent yearly. Furthermore, the university is also famous for its Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST), a group of talented and highly motivated students who work for the university to advance its environmental policies.

University of Leicester and King’s College London ranked 23rd and 24th in the world respectively. Sustainability is incorporated into all areas of academic and administrative operations at the University of Leicester. Based in the heart of London, King’s College also offers a variety of environmental and sustainability-related courses and modules.

Placed 26th in the world, University of Coimbra in Portugal is the highest ranked European university in the rankings outside the United Kingdom. University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom), Aalborg University (Denmark), University of Bologna (Italy), and University of Sussex (United Kingdom) rounded out the top ten of Europe’s most successful universities based on their’ success in delivering the SDGs. (photo credit: Freepik)