UCL News


UCL joins U7+ university climate pledge

28 October 2021

Ahead of COP26, UCL has joined leading universities from around the world to open up new opportunities for students to help tackle the climate crisis.

A rear view of people with placards and posters on global strike for climate change. Image: iStock

The presidents of 29 leading universities from 12 countries made the pledge at the U7+ Presidential Summit, where they also welcomed the final reports from student delegates taking part in the U7+ Worldwide Student Forum, led by UCL.

Over the past five months, the Forum has brought student voices to the centre of creating solutions to the climate emergency in a way that takes the interests and rights of future generations into account.

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to two actions agreed when the Alliance was conceived: increasing students’ access to courses related to sustainability, climate and biodiversity; and introducing ambitious targets to reduce and offset university-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This month UCL launched its new climate campaign, Generation One, which calls for staff, students and the public to make a pledge to tackle sustainability challenges. On 23 October UCL students also took part in a Youth COP event.

UCL President & Provost, Dr Michael Spence, said: “We recognise the devastating impact that climate change can have on the most vulnerable communities. Through UCL’s long-term sustainability plans, Generation One campaign and our work with fellow U7+ members we are proud to be empowering the next generation of brave thinkers to take action now.”

The U7+ Worldwide Student Forum, which has brought together 94 student delegates from 24 U7+ partner universities, across 12 countries, draws to a close on 3 November.

As part of their final reports, students stressed that climate change should be tackled through an intergenerational lens. They provided innovative ideas under five key themes, including how the voices and opinions of student sustainability leaders can influence global government strategies.

One of their recommendations was for all universities to include a compulsory course on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

To translate their research into action, the students proposed universities need to find ways to connect the academic, corporate and political spheres on the topic of climate change.

They also suggested universities provide academics with courses on policymaking and urged for more focus to be placed on communicating complex scientific ideas in accessible ways.

The U7+ Alliance is the first international coalition of university presidents aimed at structuring and advancing the role of universities as global actors across the multilateral agenda. Alliance members meet annually to establish a common agenda and identify key areas for coordinated action.