Students attending the London Student Sustainability Conference in 2023


2022–23 achievements

Sustainability Week 2023

Our annual Sustainability Week took place from 20–24 February 2023. Organised by the Central Sustainability team, the Global Challenge Institutes and Imperial College Union, this year’s Sustainability Week centred on the themes of Climate, Energy and Waste, Biodiversity, Water and Air. Over five days, staff and students heard from researchers about their work on the transition to zero pollution, had the chance to find out what Imperial is doing to reduce its own environmental impacts and get involved in exciting workshops and interactive events.

Highlights included panel discussions on climate justice, careers in sustainability, and the ecological crisis, a gardening session in the Environmental Society’s Secret Garden, a Sustainability Fair and a workshop led by student societies exploring effective solutions to the climate emergency.

Sustainability Unconference

In September 2023, Imperial hosted its first Sustainability Unconference, focused on Sustainable Education and Sustainable Campuses. It was an interactive, participant-led exchange of innovative ideas, learning, and networking, to help us shape the way we teach and work at Imperial.

  • 50 staff and student attendees came prepared to discuss sustainable education and campuses.
  • 22 engaging pitches were made by our attendees on the topics they thought we should cover on the day.
  • 13 breakout sessions took place throughout the day.

Discussion topics included: nature-based solutions, are the sustainable development goals holding us back, reducing and recycling single-use plastics in labs for research, nudge-theory for behaviour change and Imperial’s finances for the greater good.

Sustainable Halls campaign

This year the Sustainable Halls campaign, run by Students Organising Sustainability-UK (SOS-UK), engaged our students on environmental and social sustainability, introducing life-long sustainable living habits reducing energy usage in our halls of residence.

The campaign built students’ foundation of sustainability knowledge and carbon literacy, focusing on enhancing their skills and experience, mobilising them to lead on sustainability initiatives.

Throughout the year, engagement activities communicated practical advice to achieve quantifiable energy, waste, and water reductions.

For 2022–23, Imperial achieved:

  • 491 students engaged in the campaign (15.5% of residents).
  • 51 students entered our climate quizzes.
  • 283 participated in our online competitions, masterclasses, and webinars.
  • 155 engaged in our campus visits.

Our commitments

  • Increase the number of distinct staff and students attending sustainability training and events.
  • Staff and student perception of Imperial's sustainability practices and plan to increase in satisfaction.
  • Impact of staff and students actively participating in sustainability networks and initiatives to create more environmentally friendly campuses.

Progress against targets

Sustainability Week (Green, on target)

We continue to host annual Sustainability Weeks to engage our staff and student community in sustainability initiatives and amplify Imperial research.

Sustainable Halls campaign (Green, on target)

We currently do not set engagement targets for the Sustainable Halls campaign but are doing well in the national league. This is being reviewed when the new Sustainability Initiatives Coordinator joins in autumn term 2023.

Climate literacy staff training (Green, on target)

A successful pilot course for staff climate literacy training took place in November 2023, and an online version will be trialled in December with a smaller cohort. We aim to run more sessions in the spring term 2024. 

Staff mandatory sustainability induction course (Orange)

The course content for the climate literacy course will help shape proposals for a staff sustainability induction module.

Forward look towards 2024

Alongside delivering Sustainability Week 2024 and running SOS-UK’s Sustainable Halls campaign for another year, we are planning to provide further opportunities for staff and students to get involved in sustainability initiatives, through training, local competitions, and events to share best practice, enable peer-to-peer learning and tackle larger-scale challenges.

Climate literacy staff course pilot

We have developed Imperial’s first climate literacy staff training course to trial run in the autumn term, building on the Grantham Institute’s evening classes on climate science. The course includes background to climate science, climate change and mental health, mobilising individual action as well as what Imperial is doing and how staff can get personally involved to make change. The positive feedback received from our first participants will help shape the course for full roll out. We plan to evolve the course content further in time, to be included in staff inductions for example.

Green Impact

In the spring term 2024, we will be launching the Green Impact scheme designed to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice across Imperial.

Spotlight: Faculty of Medicine’s Sustainability Working Group

Spotlight: Faculty of Medicine’s Sustainability Working Group

The Sustainability Working Group (SWG) is a student-led group created in 2022 after an MRC Centre for Environment and Health’s Sustainability Workshop. Its members are students and staff from the Researcher’s Society with a drive for change and passion for sustainability.

The first action taken by the SWG was to generate a comprehensive and thorough report analysing the barriers and opportunities for sustainable changes within the MRC Centre and more broadly, the university, to make informed recommendations. More specifically, the report aims to: (i) better understand current practises; (ii) identify barriers and challenges to sustainable alternatives, (iii) identify opportunities, and (iv) make clear and diverse recommendations of both feasible and effective alternatives.

Imperial College Union (ICU)

Imperial College Union Officer Trustees (L-R): Camille Boutrolle, Christian Cooper, Andreea Cojocea, Stephanie Yeung, Yi Yang


2022–23 achievements

Principles of Socially Responsible Engagement Policy

Over the past year, ICU developed a socially responsible policy to recognise the responsibility held towards the community, to society and the environment. The policy outlines the principles upon which all third-party relationships with ICU should be considered.

The principles require all partners with ICU to demonstrate interest in social responsibility, with explicit highlights on integrity, human rights, and the environment.  

The policy came into effect from 1 August 2023, and marks the first step towards creating a shared, strategic approach for ICU’s engagements.

London Student Sustainability Conference 2023

The fifth annual London Student Sustainability Conference was a coordinated effort between ten London-based universities. Niamh McAuley (ICU Deputy President – Finance and Services, 2022–23) represented Imperial on the conference steering committee, contributing to the creative and logistical direction of the conference, and led training workshops for conference volunteers.

The conference was held at King’s College London on 20 February 2023, coinciding with Imperial’s Sustainability Week. The conference saw students share their innovative climate and sustainability work with over 200 like-minded peers and professionals. The conference received 16 applications from Imperial students, of which seven were selected to present at the conference.

Activities planned for 2024

Green Careers Fair

The first ever Green Careers Fair was held at Imperial on 26 January 2023, planned and organised by students from across Climate Entrepreneurs Club, Engineers without Borders, Environmental Society, and Imperial Climate Action. This event was supported by Imperial Zero Pollution and the Grantham Institute.

The fair brought together companies from across the sustainability industry to showcase the range of career opportunities available to our students. More than 250 students registered for the fair, with many others attending on the day.

Continuing from the success of last year, this year’s Green Careers Fair will take place in February 2024.

London Student Sustainability Conference 2024

The sixth annual London Student Sustainability Conference will be hosted at Imperial’s South Kensington Campus in February 2024.

ICU is taking a lead on the hosting responsibilities in conjunction with Mike Tennant and Anne Houston from Imperial and the Grantham Institute. We expect to recruit keen and passionate students to lead in the planning and delivery of the conference at Imperial.

Environment and Sustainability Forums

In 2022, ICU created a new space to encourage discussions around sustainability, open to all students at Imperial. Three forums took place, delving into general initiatives, climate finance, and ICU & College strategies on sustainability. These were led by Niamh McAuley (ICU Deputy President – Finance & Services, 2022–23).

This year, ICU plans to make forum sessions monthly with established themes to target a variety of topics across sustainability, such as green skills and careers and plant-based food and diets. Student leaders will take an active role to improve and adapt the forums to ensure they are building connections and constructive conversations.

Officer Trustee Team objectives for 2024

The ICU Officer Trustee Team for 2023–24 have established a collective objective focused on embedding a proactive approach towards environmental sustainability across all aspects of Union and College life. Each Officer Trustee has set a specific goal under their remits. These goals are expected to be integrated with the Union’s plans and operations to ensure progress and continuity beyond the Officer Trustees’ term in 2023–24.

Camille Boutrolle (Union President, 2023–24)

Lobbying Imperial for full divestment from fossil fuel industry companies and quarterly updates on Imperial’s investment portfolio.

Andreea Cojocea (Deputy President – Welfare, 2023–24)

Investigating climate anxiety and its effect on our students.

Christian Cooper (Deputy President – Clubs & Societies, 2023–24)

Working with students to develop a long-lasting framework to promote sustainable practices within clubs and societies.

Yi Yang (Deputy President – Education, 2023–24)

Refining learning outcomes across Imperial modules to equip our students to be competitive in sustainability-related industries.

Stephanie Yeung (Deputy President – Finance & Services, 2023–24)

Developing and delivering the Union Sustainability Plan.

Union Sustainability Plan

The Union Sustainability Plan is set to be launched in 2023–24 and is intended to be refreshed annually to update on progress and next steps. It will outline a systematic approach towards sustainability for ICU. The foreseeable key areas of focus for the Union Sustainability Plan include:

ICU carbon emissions and baseline

We will be working with Imperial Zero Pollution and SOS-UK to measure and audit the current carbon emissions from ICU to establish a baseline, which will inform on next steps to reducing emissions.

Student activities and engagement

We are planning to create sustainability frameworks around student-led activities, and to also engage and equip our students to become leaders on sustainability through training, workshops, events etc.

College-ICU collaboration

We strive to continue working with the university to further initiatives around sustainability. This includes discussions on education for sustainability, divestment, emissions reduction, and other key topics.