April 30, 2024 | University Partners

UWE Bristol among first organisations to sign agreement to reduce environmental impacts of conducting research

UWE Bristol is among the first organisations to commit to a new national voluntary agreement to progressively embed environmental sustainability into all research and innovation practices.

The University is one of 15 signatories to a concordat aimed at creating a meaningful and long-lasting impact in reducing the environmental effects of carrying out research.

The Concordat for the Environmental Sustainability of Research and Innovation Practice supports the wider ambition set out by the UK Government to achieve net zero by 2050. The initial group of 15 signatories – which include universities, a charity and major research funding bodies – are calling on other organisations to join.

Georgina Gough, Professor in Education for Sustainable Development at UWE Bristol, said: “UWE Bristol is proud to be one of the founding signatories of the Concordat for the Environmental Sustainability of Research and Innovation Practice.

“The Concordat recognises that research and innovation is key to both understanding the that impact climate change and biodiversity loss are having on our planet and how to solve these challenges, but also that research and innovation must be conducted in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.

“UWE Bristol has long standing engagement with priority agendas underpinning the concordat, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, Health and Safety, Modern Slavery and Research Ethics and Integrity. We look forward to using our engagement with the concordat to reflect on the extent to which these actions inform and guide our research activity.

“We particularly look forward to working collaboratively and sharing experiences and good practice, both within our institution and with external stakeholders, to achieve continuous improvement in the environmentally sustainable practice of research and innovation, in the UK and globally.”

Signatories to the concordat agree to action six priority areas, such as maintaining transparency about the environmental impacts of research output and finding new climate-conscious, low-carbon approaches. There is also an expected commitment from signatories to publicly share how their organisations will deliver its sustainability aims and publish annual summaries of progress.

Iain Foulkes, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cancer Research UK, another initial signatory of the concordat, said: “We have a key part to play in reducing the environmental impact of our research by addressing how the labs and facilities we fund operate, enabling researchers to carry out their activities in a sustainable manner. The concordat will allow us to work together to build a more sustainable research system.”

The concordat represents a shared ambition for the UK to continue delivering cutting-edge research but in a more environmentally responsible way. It also recognises the critical role of research and innovation to understand how our planet is changing, and creating solutions to the challenges we face.

Organisations from across the UK research and innovation sector have worked together, involving extensive consultation, to develop the set of priorities and responsible behaviours set out in the concordat. The final document is owned collectively by the UK research and innovation sector.

The Wellcome Trust is hosting the concordat on its website providing information on how to join, alongside a regularly maintained list of signatories and supporters.