The University of The West of England (UWE Bristol) has won the Sustainability Institution of the Year award at this year’s Green Gown Awards which celebrate the inspirational sustainability work and projects of UK and Ireland higher education institutions.
The judges commended the university for its stand-out strategic plan ‘Transforming futures: Our path to 2030’, saying: “It’s absolutely right and appropriate to recognise and celebrate UWE Bristol’s longstanding and deep-rooted commitment to sustainability action – it really is in the DNA of the organisation.”
Now in its 19th year, the 2023 awards, in association with UK Research and Innovation, took place in Liverpool on Thursday 30 November. The evening showcased a diverse array of innovative projects that universities and colleges across the UK and Ireland are currently leading to create a positive change.
UWE Bristol’s 2030 Strategy is working to address the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and strives to fulfil the university’s role in the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
It has a diverse community of global citizens and works with partners, communities, and stakeholders to drive the transition to a decarbonised and regenerative economy in the west of England and beyond.
Professor Sir Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol, said: “We are investing heavily in the student experience, campus improvements and new smart, low carbon technology to support the journey to a net zero and biodiversity rich future. We also work collaboratively with the Students’ Union to ensure that the student voice is at the heart of our approach.
“Winning this prestigious award is a fantastic endorsement of our exceptional commitment to sustainability and of the efforts of many of our staff and students. It validates our efforts to inspire and motivate others to practice sustainability and responsibility.”
Commenting further on UWE Bristol’s winning submission, the judges added: “We felt the university exemplified what a whole organisation approach to sustainability looks like – embedded across all aspects of the institution, planned with real intent and delivered with tangible outcomes and an openness about lessons learned.”
The university was also Highly Commended in the ‘Creating Impact’ category recognising the excellent initiative and impact of the Sustainability Hub – a physical space where students and staff can come and swap out everyday items, socialise in a sustainability-themed space and avoid fast fashion.
This hub-and-spoke approach is demonstrating true collaboration between the university sustainability team and its Students’ Union, and a coming together to best help students and staff to live sustainably. To date the hub has had over 2,000 customers with 1,305 items swapped.
Charlotte Bonner, CEO, EAUC, who deliver the Green Gown Awards, said: “The Green Gown Awards celebrate the most innovative and impactful work being done by those working in the post-16 education sector. The projects, initiatives and people showcased through the awards this year are, as ever, inspirational – it’s been a privilege to be part of the judging. I look forward to seeing them flourish in future and to using their examples to springboard further action for sustainability.”
Alison Robinson, NERC Deputy Executive Chair and Director of Business Delivery and Insight, part of UKRI and headline sponsor, said: “Congratulations to the winners of the Green Gown Awards. It is so great to see this exceptional set of finalists showing us what is being done across our sector to reach net zero. The quality of research and innovation alongside the passion and enthusiasm of all the finalists is inspiring. I look forward to following the progress of these projects as they help us all take climate action.”
As a winner in the Sustainability Institution of the Year category, UWE Bristol is automatically entered as finalist for the International Green Gown Awards which take place in July 2024.
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