University College Cork (UCC) has been recognised as the world’s top university for sustainability at a prestigious awards ceremony celebrating sustainability in higher education.
The University has been recognised internationally by winning Sustainability Institution of the Year at the International Green Gown Awards 2023. The announcement was made as part of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
Endorsed by United Nations Environment Programme, the International Green Gown Awards recognise and celebrate the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world. This success reflects UCC’s commitment to embedding sustainability across all its campus operations, including in its research, education, operations and community engagement.
Securing a sustainable future
Announcing the award, the judges said: “The application provides strong evidence of leadership and the development of institution wide sustainability practices. This is further evidenced by certifications, rankings and KPI improvements. There is clear commitment that has been sustained over a long period of time. The judges noted that this started as a student led initiative that the university leadership bought into and supported. UCC is a worthy winner of the Sustainability Institution of the Year.”
UCC President Professor John O’Halloran said: “The award recognises the ambitious path we set over a decade ago to ensure our learning and teaching, research and operations were focused on actions to protect our environment. This award is testament to the dedication and work of our students and staff, across our campus and our community. Our planet is facing the most significant challenge in its history; we are aware that much work must be done.”
Dr Maria Kirrane, Head of Sustainability and Climate Action Office, UCC, said: “We are delighted that UCC has won Global Sustainability Institution of the Year. This award celebrates the work led by our students, staff and wider community to transform our operations for the good of the environment. We are proud to be a world-leading university committed towards creating a sustainable future for all.”
Setting sector leading targets
Earlier this year, UCC went plastic free on campus eliminating the waste of 300,000 paper cups and UCC also established the first Sustainability and Climate Action office in Ireland’s higher education sector.
The university recently launched its ambitious sustainability and climate action plan which outlines the university’s aim to become a zero-waste campus by 2030 and a carbon neutral campus by 2040. The five-year plan sets out 62 concrete actions that the university is committing to undertaking over the next five years working across the whole institution to reduce its environmental footprint.