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This page has been developed to improve the ease of access to information relating to the 2023 People and Planet University League.

Section Description Signpost
Policy Publicly Available Policy

All of our Policies and Procedures are available on our Policies, Plans and Procedures page.
Our overarching Policy is the Environmental Sustainability Vision, Policy and Strategy. 

Our Sustainability Ambition Statement sets out our vision, aims and key ambitions to ensure that Durham University delivers its mission of excellence in education, research and wider student experience in the most sustainable way possible.

  Targets and Strategy Please view our Environmental Sustainability Action Plan and Indicators.
Human Resources Governance

The Environmental Sustainability Strategic Planning Group oversee the University's Environmental, Vision, Policy and Strategy and are an advisory body to the UEC.

Policy and Strategy documents, governance, committees and working groups.

  Environmental Sustainability Staff Please visit the About Us page for more detail on our Energy and Sustainability Team and other environmental staff at the University.
  Budget The Energy and Sustainability Team have fund allotted for Energy and Infrastructure Projects and Behavioural Change programmes. 
  All staff

Environment Champion Scheme – there is a Champion for each Department, Professional Support Services and College.
More Information on the Environment Champion Network.

Auditing & EMS EMS

After achieving the EcoCampus Gold Award in June 2020, we gained Platinum in December 2020 and renewed it in December 2021, 2022 and 2023 following external audits. To view our certificate please visit our Environmental Credentials page.

To view EcoCampus Procedure please visit our Policies Page.

In 2020 the SDG Group hired two student interns who audited the Modules across all Faculties reviewing the learning objectives, their environmental, social, economic or cultural impact, and keywords relating to the SDGs. Audits of the Colleges involved interviews with College staff, Student Environment Officers and JCR Officers/Presidents.

Ethical Investment Policy View our Ethical Investment Policy.
Ethical Careers & Recruitment Ethical Careers Policy Careers & Enterprise do not work with organisations that sell work-based opportunities to students. Info on the “employers” section of the website, updated 2022: Commercial-Organisations-Policy-2022.docx (
  Commitment to screen out Specific Sectors Screening criteria as stated within the “vacancy advertising policy”. Updated 2021, found at Advertise Opportunities
  Transparency & Accountability The Careers and Enterprise centre is not part of a combined careers service but does work with GTI and Jisc to support the career activities of our students and graduates. Featured on this page, Meet the team.
Carbon Management Carbon Management Plan and Targets

In 2011, the first Carbon Management Plan was created with the Carbon Trust, setting our targets in line with Government and Hefce targets, relating to 2013/14 and 2020. Within this plan set out a five-year plan to achieve the intermediate target of 2013/14 to review the progress of the 2020 target. We are currently in the final stages of developing a new Sustainability Strategy and Carbon Management Plan to take us to 2030. We have worked with the Carbon Trust to develop a Science-Based Target that's aligned to a pathway that limits warming to 1.5C.

Our new Carbon Management Plan contains detailed information about our carbon emissions and the actions we will take to reduce them.

We continue to monitor and report our carbon footprint in line with this policy. In the last five years, we have reduced our footprint by 34%.

An analysis of Carbon, Energy and Water Targets set out in the Sustainability Action Plan was undertaken in January 2020 and reported to the ESSPG in February 2020.

  Residential The University currently has 17 Colleges, we monitor Energy, Water and Waste from these sites (we are working with CLV to monitor usage at John Snow and South). Building energy and water use is reported to UEC annually, and student awareness campaigns are run throughout the year to reduce consumption. The analysis of Carbon, Energy and Water reviewed the use of residential buildings, this was reported to the ESSPG in February 2020, view the presentation Energy Water KPI Analysis 2021
Workers Rights Living Wage

Durham University has gained formal accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation, as part of our ongoing commitment to fair pay for staff.  Why Join Us? - Durham University

From 1 April 2024 a Real Living Wage Supplement will be applied to increase the hourly rate (and corresponding annual 
salary) for points 6 to 13 of our Pay Spine. The supplement will ensure that staff on the lowest points are paid an hourly 
rate that is higher than the Real Living Wage Foundation hourly rate (currently £12) at appropriate incremental steps.

For more visit Human Resources & Organisational Development: Salary - Durham University

  Fairtrade The University has been accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation since 2007. In 2019 we began working towards becoming a Fairtrade University with the Fairtrade Universities and Colleges Award.  In 2021/2022 the NUS and Fairtrade Foundation audited our work and awarded Fairtrade University status, which expired on 30 June 2024. We were audited in May 2024 and have received Fairtrade Status which will expire on 31st July 2026. The Procurement, Catering and Retail Teams consider Fairtrade, Rain Forest Alliance, and Organic Cotton where possible.
  Supply Chain

The University is affiliated with Electronics Watch for more information view the Modern Slavery Statement 21-22

Sustainable Food Sustainable Food Policy

Our Sustainable Food Policy 2021 was approved in 2021.

In 2021/2022 we started to work toward the Food Made Good rating - we have been awarded one star at 55% which covers our College Canteens and Cafes. We have a target to achieve 2 stars by 2025.

  Marine Stewardship Council The University has been accredited by the MSC since 2015, and we won the University of the Year Award in both 2015 and 2016.

CSER Policy

  Local food Durham University actively works with its food suppliers to maximise the use of local growers and local produce. One example is the engagement with J.R. Holland Food Services to identify local fruit and vegetable growers, resulting in seasonal produce sourced within 25 miles of the University. The University sources its milk and yoghurt from Embleton Hall Dairies based in Durham.
  Drinking water Free drinking water is available in all of our Cafes with additional water fountains across the Estate.
  Community food

A number of Colleges maintain their own allotments. 

Student Volunteering has many Environmental Volunteering Projects, including Beyond Food and Feeding Families. The Beyond Food project works with Trussell Trust’s Durham food bank to provide food parcels for disadvantaged families in the east of Durham. The food collection boxes are placed in colleges and the project leaders arrange for pickup and collection by the Trussell Trust’s Durham Foodbank.
During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catering Team worked with local food banks to redistribute food. (East Durham Trust Article)

Staff & Student Engagement Engagement Strategy For us to achieve the ambitious targets set out in our Action Plan, we need to make sure all staff and students are aware of their role in creating a more sustainable University. We have a well-established network of staff and student Environment Champions to support us in our plans, acting as a vital network for communication. A Staff and Student Engagement Strategy is available. Further policies can be found on our Policies, Plans and Procedures page.
  Engagement with the Carbon Management Plan Staff and student engagement forms part of our Action Plan. The Environmental Sustainability Strategic Planning Group (ESSPG) has representation from all four academic faculties, the Colleges, Professional Services and the Students’ Union.
  Oversight of Sustainable Policy with Staff and Students This is achieved through the Environmental Sustainability Strategic Planning Group (ESSPG) as well as, through our Environment Champion and Student Environment Representative networks across all parts of the University.
  Student induction processes Material is sent out to all colleges and departments for inclusion in student and staff induction. This includes a short presentation, full details in the student handbooks, livers out guide and the Environmental Sustainability Online Training Module accessible to both staff and students.
  Greenspace Festival The Energy and Sustainability Team organise an annual Sustainability Event, our Greenspace Festival, with the support of other teams in the University. We also work with local organisations and charities who are welcomed along to event to promote sustainability in the local area, including The Ugly Fruit Group and Recyke y'Bike. We invite all staff, students, and the local community to get involved.
  Environmental and ethical/sustainability campaigns

ESSPG and the Energy and Sustainability Team design a Calendar of awareness-raising events and activities for each academic year around each of our sustainability icons each month, on how people can take action and what the University's targets are MyGreenspace Calendar 2023-2024.

View our online campaigns:

  Local Community Partnership

Members of the Energy and Sustainability Team participate, and in some cases lead on, many working groups and committees that are internal and external to support and advise on local community projects and strategies, regarding the estate, travel, sustainability and engagement. In 2021, we held our first open Greenspace Festival which showcased the work of local charities, student groups and research at the University.

Durham Energy Institute (DEI) works with communities to support local energy projects and to inform local discussions on energy issues such as fracking and heat networks. It also works with local authorities and regional bodies on regional energy projects and has a school outreach programme on energy education and encourages engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects. For more information on the DEI please visit their webpage.

Staff and Student Volunteering Teams run a wide range of projects within the local community, they work with local councils and charities to raise money, volunteer and mentoring. Our SDG Group is in partnership with the council, volunteers' teams and other members of staff to develop an interactive programme on the UN SDG's through workshops for local schools.

Student Volunteering: Hedgehog Friendly Campus, Beyond Food, Balsam Bashing and many more...

  Funds for staff and student-led projects

All staff and students can apply for support from the Ring-Fenced Carbon Budget for a project that will save carbon, up to £10,000 per project and a total of £100,000 is allocated to fund these projects internally. Please note applications are currently closed for this scheme.

For examples of successful fund applications please email the team.

  Staff Inductions All new starters complete the Environmental Sustainability Online Training Module which is part of every member of staff induction checklist with HR.
  Trade Union The Trade Unions are invited to attend meetings, such as the Integrated Sustainable Travel Plan Steering Group (ISTPSG) and the Vehicle Parking Working Group (VPWG).
  Student representation planning and resources

The Estates Team publish upcoming plans on the website which is open for feedback from all members of the public. Key Projects have a Students’ Union representative who attends meetings and reviews plans.

Student representatives, including from the Student's Union, are members of our Environmental Sustainable Strategic Planning Group (ESSPG) - ESSPG Membership 2023/24.

  Students’ Union continual environmental improvement The Durham Students' Union (DSU) announced a Climate Emergency in November 2019. They are undertaking a sustainability audit. The Energy and Sustainability Team have supported the DSU with advice on energy, waste and water management as well as carrying out on-site audits. The Sustainability Coordinator has been working closely with DSU and has supported events and campaigns.
Education Commitment to ESD

Durham University’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has grown significantly. We have seen the greatest contribution through our research activity, with projects ongoing across our faculties and departments which feed into the overall SDG agenda. This includes research on unacceptable forms of work and protection for workers, neglected tropical diseases, and drug discovery. Durham has also created the UK’s first Global Challenges Research Fund Centre for Doctoral Training, which hosts 25 PhD students delivering interdisciplinary challenge-led projects aligned with the SDGs. We will look to build on our platform of activity in the next 12 months, with a new global strategy that incorporates the SDGs and to ensure the SDGs remain a priority for us as an institution.
Professor Claire O'Malley, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Global)

Our Full-time MBA has been ranked 7th in the world by the Corporate Knights Better World MBA Ranking 2019, which evaluates the extent to which programmes integrate sustainability knowledge and skills into business education.

Durham Business School PRME Report for 2020

Durham Business School PRME Report for 2022

For an overview of Durham University's work towards the SDGs please visit our Sway here.

  Framework / Strategy for ESD

In 2019-20 we developed a sub-group of the ESSPG to focus on the Curriculum. In our Action Plan, we have KPI 29-31 focused on the Curriculum. We worked with the Durham Inspired Award team to develop a short video for the online learning animations.

The Durham Business School's ‘Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability Steering Group’ (ERSSG) developed an ERS Strategy, in which they committed to support the Education and Student Experience strategy in general and to further develop the resources to support the embedding of ERS within the curriculum in particular, linking this to the Sustainable Development Goals where appropriate.

  Reviewing and reporting on ESD In 2020 the SDG Group hired two student interns who audited the Modules across all Faculties reviewing the learning objectives, their environmental, social, economic or cultural impact, and keywords relating to the SDGs. Audits of the Colleges involved interviews with College staff, Student Environment Officers and JCR Officers/Presidents.
  Support and training for academic staff Research Groups:
At the University there are many research groups, staff and students from different departments work together on a range of topics. A brief description of the groups and their research interests is given below. Each group maintains its own web pages, and much more detailed information about research, postgraduate studies and seminars can be found there.
  Support for ESD projects Durham Global Challenges – Centre for Doctoral Training:
The Centre currently consists of a single cohort of 25 international PhD students, all citizens of a developing nation. Each student is undertaking a three year fully-funded PhD programme designed to identify steps towards a solution to a specific global challenge aligned with one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The students are all supervised by a multidisciplinary team of academic staff reflecting the complex and wide-ranging nature of these global challenges.

Research is mapped by Themes including Energy and Clean Growth.

Research Projects Mapped to UN Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainability research through the Strategic Research Fund

  Education for Sustainable Development Actions

We are enabling students to be global citizens & leaders who will ensure the delivery of the SDGs either through their career choices or entrepreneurial ventures that will contribute to economic growth. We have developed Game Changer: a fast-paced, extra-curricular innovation programme using Design Thinking to find solutions to the SDGs. Its purpose is to foster ingenuity, creativity & innovative design to deliver environmentally, socially & economically sustainable solutions. Students work in teams to research SDGs, ideate, develop prototypes & compete in a pitching challenge. For more information visit the Game Changer Innovation Programme ( and Game Changer - Durham University

In the Durham SOFI (Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces Centre for Doctoral Training) program (a PhD program based in Chemistry and Physics which aims to inspire students to solve solutions to problems in sustainability on an industrial scale), students have the chance to develop business ideas. Low Carbon materials are a company set up by PhD students as a result of the program which reduces plastic waste by incorporating waste plastic in concrete and construction materials.

The Centre for Sustainable Development Law and Policy aims at advancing sustainable development through research across intersecting thematic areas.

Find out more.

  Access to Education

Fair access and excellent education for all: We welcome students from all backgrounds with merit and potential and we have robust systems in place to ensure our admissions process is fair and transparent. Our Access Agreement 2019-20 agreed by the Office for Students (OfS) reaffirms our commitment to widening participation in higher education. We are proud to be investing £11.7million in outreach, student success, progression and evaluation activities over the year.

Access and Participation Plan 2020/21 - 2024/25 

Durham Grant Scheme:

From next academic year, home undergraduates who do not already have an undergraduate degree and who have a household income of less than £30,000 as assessed by Student Finance England (or equivalent) will receive a Durham Grant of £2,670.

Similar students, who have a household income of between £30,000 and £47,200, will receive a Durham Grant of between £2,669 and £835. For more information on financial support please visit this webpage.


Our electricity is purchased through The Energy Consortium (TEC), which certifies that 100% of our supply from EDF is backed by clean, renewable generation. To view the latest certificate, please click here (April 2021-March 2022).
An analysis of Carbon, Energy and Water Targets set out in the Action Plan was undertaken in January 2020 and reported to the ESSPG in February 2020.

Staff and Student Engagement - Energy Campaigns are run throughout the year.

This year, we ran the Switch Off campaign across our internal channels and social media. Here is an example. Please see the Energy webpage for more information.

Waste & Recycling   Waste Management Policy. For more information on our campaigns and recycling procedures, please visit our Waste webpage.