As the Climate Crisis is increasingly recognised as the most pressing issue our world faces, the Green Gown Awards put a spotlight on the innovative and inspiring sustainability work taking place in universities and colleges to create a brighter future for their students.

This year’s UK and Ireland Green Gown Award Finalists represented over 1 million students and 162,000 staff. They are leading the way with their commitment to the global sustainability agenda and proving the value that universities and colleges bring to the wellbeing of society. Organised by EAUC - the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, the Awards Ceremony was held at Glasgow Science Centre on Tuesday 26th November 2019.

The Awards recognised a number of colleges that are playing a central role in ensuring a better tomorrow for young people. Winning initiatives included social projects, like Ayrshire College’s ‘Passing Positivity’ campaign that aims to tackle the high prevalence of suicide in its surrounding community, and Wiltshire College and University Centre’s Apple Project, which engages young people with mental health difficulties, complex learning difficulties or challenging home lives in an enterprise project to utilise fresh fruit that would otherwise have gone to waste.

The Awards celebrated colleges that are offering solutions to some of the growing sustainability issues. The Campus Health Food and Drink category featured a Highly Commended entry from Schumacher College – a vegetarian organisation which grows much of its own produce and encourages staff and students to take their turn in the kitchen and gardens to help harvest and prepare food. This hands-on approach stimulates debate about healthy food choices and how we consider supply, sustainability and seasonality of produce. The Winning entry in this category came from Dundee and Angus College which has implemented a successful food waste project, removing in the region of 20,000 single use plastic bottles, and 130,000 disposable cups from the system, trying to change an imbedded disposable culture.

Iain Patton, CEO at EAUC and co-host of the Green Gown Awards ceremony, said: “Addressing the Climate Emergency has been the focus of EAUC’s work this year and will continue to be a key priority over the months ahead through our work with the newly-formed Climate Commission which will work with UK institutions to ensure they reach the UK government’s target of reducing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 at the very latest. It is a privilege to collaborate with the institutions recognised tonight, supporting them on pioneering initiatives that will contribute towards these emissions targets. There are a lot of questions at the moment from the general public, concerned about the Climate Crisis, concerned about how we will reach net zero, and these Awards identify and commend those that have some of the answers.”

We encourage colleges to look at the examples from the Green Gown Awards and get inspired. You can find case studies and videos at https://www.sustainabilityexchange.ac.uk/2019x. Applications for the 2020 Green Gown Awards will open on 1 April 2020.

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