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A man watering plants in the Botanic Garden on a sunny day

The University has been named as one of the Top 100 educational institutions worldwide in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023, demonstrating our commitment to a sustainable future.

The ranking recognises our extensive programme of work across our educational, research, engagement and operational activities contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs were first adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Durham’s highest ranking yet

This year we have been placed joint 77th in the world, from a field of 1,591 educational institutions. This is our highest ranking to date in this league table.

The ranking reflects the work of our staff and students, across the whole University, including our academic departments, research institutes, colleges and Energy and Sustainability team.

We performed particularly well in SDG15: Life on Land, SDG11: Sustainable Cites & Communities, SDG17: Partnership for Goals and you can find out more about our submissions to these SDGs below.

SDG17: Partnership for Goals

We were pleased to rank 64th out of 1,625 educational institutions for SDG17: Partnership for Goals - a fantastic recognition of how we work with partners locally and globally to achieve more together. For example:

  • We are part of the Environment & Climate Change Partnership which includes representatives from public, private, voluntary and community sector organisations from across County Durham and the wider North East England region. Together, we use our shared knowledge and skills to find innovative solutions to environmental issues which affect County Durham.
  • Professor Jon Gluyas, a world leading geoscientist and Executive Director of our globally influential Durham Energy Institute (DEI), chairs the Climate Emergency sub-group of this partnership. The DEI provides insight, leadership and solutions for energy decarbonisation and the transition to net-zero. A key strength of DEI is engagement of outstanding researchers from science, social science and humanities departments to address the global challenge of decarbonising energy.
  • We are signatories of the SDG Accord, the University and College sectors collective response to the global goals. As signatories to the Accord, we aim to advance the critical role that education has in delivering the SDGs and the value it brings to governments, business and wider society.
  • As members of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) we’re calling for corporate and asset owner action and improved reporting on the UN’s SDGs to hit goals set for 2030. Our recommendations are detailed in a report, Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure (SDGD) Recommendations, authored by Professor Carol Adams (Durham University Business School) with Paul Druckman and Russell Picot, Honorary Professors at our Business School.

SDG11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

For SDG11: Sustainable Cities & Communities we ranked 34th out of 860 educational institutions. We strive to reduce our environmental impact, and to improve the local environment, both for the people who live and work in the University and for the wider community. An example of which is our Durham Centre for Cultural Heritage Protection (DCCHP).

The DCCHP builds on the expertise available in our Department of Archaeology, ranked 10th in the world in the QS World Rankings by Subject 2023, in global cultural heritage protection issues.

The Centre’s activities make full use of the range of outstanding skills and expertise available in Durham, to work with a variety of partners, in the UK and internationally. Heritage is essential to our sense of identity and place in the world, but is more than ever under threat from conflict, tourism, natural disasters, and climate change. This places archaeology at the heart of contemporary political and social debates. Inspired by Durham’s own UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a broad and deep trajectory of heritage protection and training globally, the Centre works to sustain and protect cultural heritage for future generations.

Further afield, the EAMENA Project (Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa) was established in 2015 and is a partnership between the Universities of Durham, Leicester and Oxford. The team use satellite imagery and ground surveys to record and monitor cultural heritage sites in the MENA region in response to a growing number of threats such as agricultural expansion, urban development, conflict, and natural disasters.

SDG 15: Life on Land

This year, we performed particularly well in SDG15: Life on Land, placing 15th out of 586 educational institutions. The research, outreach and educational activities set out in our Biodiversity strategy were recognised, particularly our popular visitor attractions and the ongoing events in our Botanic Garden that continue to welcome visitors and school groups.

Find out more