Western’s commitment to sustainable development places the university among the world’s top educational institutions, new global rankings show.
The Times Higher Education’s (THE) Impact Rankings released April 21 position Western in the top five per cent of more than 1,100 universities from 94 countries and regions: eighth in Canada and 52nd in the world.
The rankings assess each university’s work towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, 17 areas aimed at protecting the planet and its inhabitants.
Each institution is ranked on research, stewardship, outreach and teaching on global issues such as sustainable communities, responsible consumption, equity, peace and justice.
For anti-poverty and hunger alleviation, for example, Western ranks among the top 10 in the world – and among the top three in Canada – for research, policy and action in these areas.
Western also ranked in the top five among Canadian institutions in seven goals that included decent work and economic growth, responsible consumption and production, and industry, innovation and infrastructure.
The university improved its global rankings in six goals that included sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption, commitment to healthy water eco-systems, and clean water and sanitation.
The rankings come out as the planet celebrates Earth Day this week. This is the third year THE has conducted sustainability rankings; and the second year Western has been a participant.
Almost 50 per cent more universities participated globally in 2021 than last year.
“We’re accelerating the commitment we’ve made to sustainability, beyond even the ambitious benchmarks that brought us into the impact rankings last year,” said Lynn Logan, vice-president (operations and finance) and co-chair of the recently re-constituted President’s Advisory Committee on the Environment and Sustainability (PACES).
“We’re embedding sustainability into every facet of our operations and research strategies – whether its ‘greening up’ campus open spaces; earmarking ever-higher percentages of our endowments for environmentally responsible investments; or working to bring to life to healthier watersheds and new, super-efficient battery technologies.”
Logan noted Western will break ground this year on its first net-zero-energy building and expects to re-use “waste” energy throughout campus facilities, among other initiatives, as it works towards significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Andy Hrymak, the other co-chair of PACES as well as special advisor to President Alan Shepard on industry partnerships, the green economy and sustainability, said Western is making important, steady strides.
“Rankings are one way we measure our achievements against our aims as well as in the context of other universities’ work. Probably the greatest value of this reflective activity, though, is that it helps us share valuable ideas with peer institutions and the whole global community, for the betterment of the planet.”
Western is also a signatory to Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities.
Among Western’s many research and learning initiatives is a new major to be offered this fall that focuses on solving the multidimensional problems of climate change.
More than 100 researchers are also dedicated to solving some aspect of environmental and sustainability issues.