picture of the sustainable development goals mutli colour wheel on a black background

Our ambitions for a sustainable University, and how you can get involved

If you’ve returned after the winter holidays thinking about what changes you might make in your life this year, you’re not alone. The start of the year is a great time to take stock and start thinking about ways you might change your behaviour to reduce the pressure on the planet. 

What does sustainability mean? 

To sustain means to ‘support’, ‘hold’ or ‘keep up’, and when we talk about sustainability, people often firstly think about environmental sustainability – that is protecting the planet, halting climate change and promoting social development. This means thinking creatively about how we might cover our present needs without compromising resources for future generations. This is also intertwined with concepts of social and economic sustainability, making sure that our progress as a society can be maintained without leaving anyone behind. 

What are we doing at Kent to meet sustainability goals? 

The University are signatories of the Sustainable Development Goals Education Accord. That means we are committed to embedding the 17 biggest global challenges of our time into everything we do; our operations, teaching and research. 

Our ambition is that by 2025, even before visiting us, people will be aware that the university is a key actor in addressing the climate and ecological emergency and is demonstrating dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions. Through our campuses and online presence, our staff, students and the local community will experience the obvious actions and activities that show how seriously the University of Kent takes climate action and social and environmental responsibility. Every building on our campuses will show signs of having moved to more sustainable power. Our transport systems will be much less fossil-fuel based, and our shops, cafes and restaurants will focus on more sustainable produce. Our green spaces will demonstrate our connection to the natural environment, making spaces for people to enjoy that protect, enhance and allow biodiversity to flourish. More than all this, our education will be steeped in a culture of continuous improvement to ensure that all our students in all subjects are learning the skills and knowledge needed for a sustainable future. You can read about all of our targets in the University’s Sustainability Strategy. 

How can you get involved? 

  • Keep up to date with sustainability activities and events by following unikent.sustainability on Instagram, or search #UniKentSustainability
  • Join one of Kent’s amazing student led societies centred around environmental and/or social sustainability  
  • Take part in Kent’s Environmentally Friendly Careers Week from 23 January to 27 January 2023 
  • Want to be involved in sustainability activity in your School/Division? Find out who your local staff Sustainability Champion is and get in touch with them 

Orchard Planting

This term we will be planting an orchard of over 300 fruit and nut trees on the edge of the Canterbury campus. What will be known as the diamond anniversary orchard has been planned ahead of the University’s 60th birthday in 2025 and the space has been designed by the future class of 2025, our undergraduates who started a 3-year degree this year. 

The site on the Southern Slopes of the campus provides an ideal setting for a semi-natural orchard and meadow that will not only be a beautiful space for students, staff and community members to enjoy, but also provides a complex habitat that will boost biodiversity in the area. 

As the space matures it will become a mosaic of trees, grasses, shrubs and wild flowers supporting a wide range of wildlife. As fruit trees age quickly, they create the perfect habitats for invertebrates and birds, such as the lesser spotted woodpecker and the rare noble chafer beetle.  Orchard meadows with swathes cut through for paths provide a peaceful space to walk through and enjoy and with the increase bird life in the area the birdsong in this area will begin to match that heard in Bluebell wood. You can get involved with the planting and find out more about activities planned in the space on our anniversary orchard webpage.

We also have plans for the Medway campus bringing high pollen value plants for bees and butterflies to the communal seating area at Rochester Lawn, building upon the new seating and shaded area there. We will also be planting up large pots around the Medway building to improve access to nature at an urban campus and seeded a new wildflower meadow to bring nature in! 


Doing or trying the plant-based thing? The Templeman library are supporting this month with a themed reading list that includes books and films on veganism, and sustainable living but also on the cost of living and how to manage money., check out the library blogpost on veganuary for more information.

Want to share your sustainability tips/ wins/ challenges? Find unikent.sustainability on Instagram, #UniKentSustainability.

Written by Natalia Crisanti, Catherine Morris and Emily Mason, staff 10.01.23