Strathclyde hosts inaugural Sustainability Month in March

Parent and child planting a tree

The University of Strathclyde is putting sustainability and the climate crisis at the centre of its first-ever ‘Sustainability at Strathclyde’ Month.

A series of events during March will raise awareness of the range of activities at Strathclyde that are helping to tackle the climate crisis and support attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Strathclyde, said: “Sustainability sits at the heart of our Strategic Vision 2025. It is embedded in our curricula, guides our campus development, inspires our research activity and informs our own carbon reduction and net zero targets.

“Climate change presents one of the greatest global threats and, as a socially-progressive University, we are committed to working together with our global partners to apply our knowledge, expertise and research to find solutions to this challenge.”

Complex challenges

Events that are open to the public include:

Dr Tracy Morse, Director of Strathclyde’s Centre for Sustainable Development, said: “Sustainability at Strathclyde Month is an opportunity for people to find out more about the role Strathclyde and universities in general are playing in tackling the complex challenges of protecting the planet while ensuring our societies are more fair, just and sustainable.”

Systems thinking

In a talk at the TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde Annual Ideas Conference last autumn, Sir Jim outlined how bringing ‘systems thinking’ to complex challenges like decarbonisation can play a key role in addressing the climate crisis and making net zero a reality by 2050.

He argued that a more holistic approach is needed to anticipate the likely real-world outcomes of potential solutions to climate change to ensure they do not have knock-on effects that damage the environment, society, or our ultimate ability to reach net zero. He also highlighted the need for systems and infrastructure to be resilient in order to cope with inevitable, unforeseen events.

Sir Jim was one of 14 speakers at TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde’s eighth and largest conference to date, with a theme of Resilience Reignited. The conference was organised by Strathclyde Doctoral Researchers Sheik Abdul Malik, from the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, and Maisie Keogh, from the Sir Jules Thorn Centre for Co-Creation and Rehabilitation Technology in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

“Having been the lead organiser for our 2020 Annual Ideas Conference with a theme of Everything Connected, I was keen to host our flagship event for 2021 in person, with a distinguished line-up of speakers,” said TEDx licensee Malik. “As the City of Glasgow was also hosting COP26, we wanted to not only promote our theme of resilience but closely relate it to the efforts that many sectors are making to play their part in reducing emissions.”

He added: “As host to COP26, Glasgow welcomed world leaders and representatives with the aim of making positive change for our planet. The spirit of the conference was to seek international collaboration and contributions for decades to come, a core value shared by TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde.

“During Sustainability at Strathclyde Month, TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde have committed to hosting a Sustainability Salon Event focused on highlighting the work being done around the globe in tacking climate change and promoting sustainability in all sectors.”

Significant role

Strathclyde played a significant role during COP26 in Glasgow in November, contributing to the policy debate, hosting a number of events and welcoming former US President Barack Obama when he met with young campaigners on campus.

The University also welcomed the Conference of Youth, the world’s largest annual youth gathering on climate change, to its campus ahead of COP26; hosted the Universities UK Universities Network’s Climate Innovation Showcase; and unveiled the Hope Triptych sculpture by Steuart Padwick in Rottenrow Gardens.

Strathclyde is a signatory to the SDG Accord, the University Global Coalition, a group committed to working in partnership with the UN’s Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and other relevant organisations, in support of the SDGs. 

Find out more about Strathclyde’s commitment to sustainable development and climate action by visiting its COP26 Legacy Strategy webpages.