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Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability


We are living through a period of unprecedented environmental change. At UKRI we are proud of the contribution our Research and Innovation (R&I) continues to make in understanding global environmental sustainability challenges and developing the solutions to address them. This includes our cutting-edge research on changing climate and the impact of plastic in our oceans.

Given the scope of UKRI’s operations and the role that our science plays in the global response to climate and environmental change, it is vital that as an organisation UKRI uses this knowledge to enhance its own environmental performance. The UKRI Environmental Sustainability Strategy sets our ambitions and priorities to make a positive impact.

We are aiming to be bold; in July 2019, the UK government committed to achieving ‘net-zero’ by 2050. Not only is R&I critical to delivering this national ambition, we must also take a lead in our own operations. Therefore, we are aiming for UKRI to be ‘net-zero’ a decade earlier, by 2040 at the latest.


The development of the strategy has been informed by an extensive engagement process involving numerous internal and external stakeholders. Representatives from across UKRI have contributed their expertise and views through a range of mechanisms.

UKRI also engaged with leading environmental sustainability leaders from across a range of sectors through the UKRI Sustainability Advisory Group.

The strategy came into force on 1 April 2020. This first iteration focusses on a set of priorities, through to 2025, as well as laying out some of our longer-term ambitions.


Everyone in UKRI has a role to play in delivering the strategy. There is already lots of positive environmental action being taken across councils and UKRI at an individual, team and organisational level as well as in partnership with other organisations that we work with and fund.

We will also be working hard to develop projects at the organisational level; looking at how we use energy and materials; how we procure goods and services with better environmental credentials; how we manage our sites for biodiversity; and how we improve the impact of the R&I we fund.

For more information see the UKRI Environmental Sustainability Strategy (PDF, 1.4MB).

UKRI contribution to the UK National Voluntary Review against the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

UKRI funded research and innovation directly contributes to the UK delivery against all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. UKRI specific contributions were highlighted in the first UK National Voluntary review which can be found here.

UKRI was directly referenced as contributing to SDG Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure through its commitment to raise spend on research and innovation to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

NERC's contribution to Goal 9 though its ‘Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro)’ programme and Goal 13: Climate Action through it’s ‘Engaging Environments’ initiative'.

Sustainability Performance – UKRI Annual Report 2019-2020

Supplementary Information: Quantitative reporting areas as split for MRC, NERC, STFC and other UKRI partners (PDF, 235KB).


Please contact us for further information: ukrisustainability@nerc.ukri.org.

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