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Environmental sustainability

We are living through a period of unprecedented environmental change. At UKRI we are proud of the contribution our research and innovation 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 research and innovation 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.

Strategy development

The development of our strategy has been informed by an extensive engagement process involving many internal and external stakeholders. Representatives from across UKRI have contributed their expertise and views in different ways.

We also engaged with 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 focuses on a set of priorities, through to 2025, as well as laying out some of our longer term ambitions.

UKRI sustainability strategy

Strategy delivery

Everyone in UKRI has a role to play in delivering the strategy. There is already a lot 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
  • procure goods and services with better environmental credentials
  • manage our sites for biodiversity
  • improve the impact of the research and innovation we fund.

UKRI’s contribution to the UK national voluntary review against the UN sustainable development goals

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 including:

  • our contribution to SDG goal 9: industry, innovation and infrastructure through our commitment to raise spend on research and innovation to 2.4% of GDP by 2027
  • NERC’s contribution to goal 9 through its ‘Unlocking the potential of groundwater for the poor (UPGro)’ programme and goal 13: Climate action through its ‘Engaging Environments’ initiative.

Sustainability performance

For more information, read Quantitative reporting areas as split for MRC, NERC, STFC and other UKRI partners (PDF, 235KB) from our annual report 2019-20.

Get in touch

Contact us for further information: ukrisustainability@nerc.ukri.org

Last updated: 27 November 2020

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