Your Union has students at the heart of everything we do, so it goes without saying that we care about your future, especially given that it is this generation who will be dealing with the worst of climate breakdown. We’re not perfect, however, and as part of the biggest educational institution in the UK, and one of the most influential institutions in the world, we have a big role to play and an even bigger responsibility to protect the futures of our students, and our future students.
But we’re not all that bad. We’re very proud to have been awarded a Gold Green Impact Award from 2015, which recognised the work that we did in making the Union a greener and more ethical place, but in the last 3 years we have slipped to gaining only the Bronze equivalent. We realise we could do much more as a Students’ Union, which is why we need all the help we can get. We have the resources, we have the time, and we must take the lead.
This year we’re going for Green Impact Gold again. We have developed a comprehensive Environmental Policy that outlines guidelines of how to maintain a more environmentally sustainable Students’ Union, as well as what we’d like to achieve in the future. We’re also making an effort to source more of our food from local producers, as well as working on reducing food waste and single-use plastics.
We also have one of Manchester’s first zero waste shops right on our premises, which houses the biggest recycling depository on campus (find out more about this great project below).
We’ve just created our brand spanking new Climate Emergency Committee (CEC) after the University of Manchester declared a climate emergency, along with over 7000 other educational institutions worldwide to look at how to act within a climate emergency, and what the Union could be doing to improve sustainability for its students. The committee aims to be a totally democratic panel of both students and staff, with focus on equality, diversity, and decolonising the environmental movement. You can find the minutes to this meeting here. If you’re interested in getting involved with the CEC then you’re in luck - we have two spaces open to any students who have an interest in sustainability or a particular skill they would like to offer up to help the sustainable development of the SU. For more information on this, check out this document, sign up here, or email your Activities & Development Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve also got loads of people in our collection of staff (including your Exec Officers) who are working on sustainability projects too. Have a read of what they’re up to below!
Lizzy Haughton, Activities & Development Officer
In my second year as your Activities & Development Officer, I want to continue to bring sustainability to the forefront of student life. I’m heavily involved with Extinction Rebellion (if you wanna get involved then come find me!) but also focusing on embedding sustainability into the curriculum so that everyone knows about the crisis we’re in. I’m supporting Jen O’Brien with her new UCIL Course on the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as putting on FRED (Friendly Earth Discussions) Talks with the Alternative Lecture Series (see below for more dates on this). I also want to support any students and staff members to go on the climate strikes, so I will be campaigning for no sanctions to those who want to strike. I’m doing LOADS of other stuff around sustainability, so anything you want to get involved in, come and find me in the Activities Office on the 1st floor of the SU!
Ryan Woods, Ethical & Environmental Officer
Over the coming academic year I will be working to introduce climate and ecological grief sessions. By opening a place to confront and deal with ecoanxiety and climate grief I hope to help students overcome the feelings of helplessness that surround these issues and encourage involvement and action in relevant student groups. I will be continuing to campaign for full divestment from fossil fuels with the People and Planet Society and Extinction Rebellion students. I will also be trying to obtain Carbon Literacy training for all incoming student execs and staff at the SU. Finally I will be working with the Climate Emergency Committee to work on the solutions for said climate emergency and hold to account the University and Students Union in said commitment.