Month: September 2021

The UN Sustainable Development Goals: what are they and what do they mean at King’s?

At King’s, we are not only concerned about improving environmental sustainability, but also about the wider social and economic impacts the university has. That is where the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) come in: they guide our work and help us measure our progress holistically.

Adopted in 2015 as part of the wider UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs outline the global targets for development by 2030. There are a total of 17 goals that have been agreed upon by all UN member states, cutting across social, economic and ecological concerns.

An ambitious and wide-reaching agenda

While the large number of goals (and sub-targets) has been criticised, the strength of the SDGs lies in their recognition of the interconnectedness of the many challenges we face today and the need for system-wide change. Indeed, “they recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests” (UN, 2021).

To learn more about the SDGs, head over to the UN SDGs webpages and check out the following blog posts written by PhD student Onna Malou van den Broek:

Goals, targets and indicators 

Each of the 17 SDGs is broken down into targets (there are 169 in total) alongside indicators (232 overall) to facilitate the measurement and evaluation of progress on the goals.

For example, SDG 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” is broken down into 9 targets, including “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life”. The indicators to measure our achievement of this target are the proportion of seats held by women in national and local governments, as well as in managerial positions.

The SDGs at King’s

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, we use the SDGs as a way to both guide our work and measure our progress. And this commitment extends beyond the Sustainability Team – King’s recognises that as an educator, we have a responsibility to play a central role in advancing the SDGs. This is captured in the King’s Strategic Vision 2029 “to make the world a better place”, and in our commitment to act “in service to society” .

  • Our yearly Environmental Sustainability Reports link our targets and progress to the SDGs.
  • Each year, we take part in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking, which ranks universities for their contribution to the SDGs. King’s ranked 11th in the world in 2021 in recognition of the university’s positive social and environmental impact. This year, in addition to our commitment to climate action, promoting global health and supporting strong institutions and promoting peace and justice, we were highly ranked for our work with local, national and international partners – leading on to the next point.
  • Given the opportunity sustainability gives us to envision and build a better world for all, we want to ensure our work truly engages the King’s community:
    • We held several Hackathon events, giving an opportunity for students and staff to feedback directly on several challenges we face within sustainability. Building on these sessions, we are currently running our Listening Campaign which seeks to ensure our future sustainability projects are co-created with students and staff.
    • The King’s Climate Action Network (CAN) was set up last year with the aim to bring together individuals from across the King’s community to co-create and implement King’s climate action plan (set to be released in October 2021). Within the King’s CAN, one working group focuses specifically on Students and Education, discussing how to embed climate into education at King’s.
    • Our Sustainability Champions programme has continued to grow, with 58 teams receiving awards this year. This programme brings together staff from across our campuses, who all play a crucial role in making King’s a more sustainable place.


What do you think – is the wide reach of the SDGs mostly a strength or a weakness?

Sign up to your favourite Sustainability project here!

Turn your passion into action by getting involved in some of the many sustainability projects at King’s and support us to #MakeADifference. 

If you have a broad interest in sustainability, then signing up as a Sustainability Volunteer for general operations might be the right thing for you.

Join the King’s Climate Action Network to help shape our Climate Action Strategy and ensure progress is being made on the seven key areas (including education, responsible investment, zero carbon research) and help ensure King’s meets its Net Zero Carbon target by 2025. 

If you are living in one of King’s halls of residences this year, join your residence sustainability committee to shape the sustainability strategy for your halls and get involved with sustainable projects. You can also participate in the Sustainable Living Community buddy scheme and join the Sustainable Living Communities Facebook group. Stay tuned on sustainability events on Resilife Instagram and King’s Sustainability Instagram.

Join one of the King’s Sustainability #TakeAction Teams and support the development of the Sustainability KEATS Module, Sustainability Conversations Initiative, and how we can support diversity further within environmental sustainability. Contact Ali Hepple to find out more.

To help shape sustainable education at King’s and learn more about sustainability, register for the KEATS Sustainability Module pilot and Sustainability Seminar Series. 

King’s also runs a Sustainability Champions programme, where you can act as a Sustainability Champion Assistant working with one of our 70+ Champions to embed sustainability into the various areas at King’s. There is also the opportunity to act as a Sustainability Auditor at the end of the academic year. 

We are always eager to hear from students about their experiences within sustainability. If you are particularly passionate about a topic within sustainability, if you would like to share about your professional or voluntary experiences within sustainability or if you are looking for an opportunity to develop your writing skills, why not write for our sustainability blog?

Or have your say by signing up to our Sustainability Listening Campaign. If you are interested in guiding these chats, then you can participate as a Conversations Lead.  

In short, lots of ways to get involved! We will highlight upcoming volunteering opportunities in our newsletter, on social media and in updates sent to those registered as sustainability volunteers. 

Explore all relevant links here.

Meet King’s sustainable student groups and societies

This blog post provides a brief overview of some of the sustainability-focused societies and student groups at King’s. Read on to hear about their goals, how they engage students and how you can get involved. Find out more about all the societies and student groups at King’s on the KCLSU webpages.

KCL Climate Action Society

KCLCA aims to unite students from across the university to bring awareness on climate change and encourage action. Founded in 2019, the society quickly grew to become a large community of individuals who are all passionate about taking action and making change. Follow the society’s Instagram for updates on events, news stories and delicious plant-based recipes!

“The idea behind the society was thus to provide a platform for students to take action, in a context where we often feel powerless as individuals. The two courses of action were (1) organising events to be more aware and knowledgeable when it came to the many facets and issues related to climate change, from food and energy production, to fast fashion and waste pollution; and (2) campaigning at King’s to make and see some actual changes within the institution. […] Seeing so many people coming together and ready to put in the work gives me hope for the future.”Anna Peran, co-founder of KCLCA.

KCL Environmental Society

KCL EcoSoc is dedicated to connecting students who share a passion for the environment, to providing opportunities to learn about environmental issues and campaign for change.

Past events have included webinars on Climate Change, Culture and Communication and Environmental Justice, a live cook-along with celebrity chef Max LaManna, as well as the London Energy Idea Challenge (organised in collaboration with 4 other London universities).

Find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

KCL Vegetarian and Vegan Society

KCL VegSoc brings together like-minded people interested in vegetarian and vegan food and lifestyles.

They are hosting their first event of the year on Sunday, September 26th: KCL VegSoc x What the Pitta. Join them to meet the society and enjoy some great (discounted) vegan food! Follow VegSoc on Instagram for more information and updates.

Hear from Bethan Spacey, outgoing president of the society, on her experience with VegSoc – “My first year in KCL VegSoc was brilliant. The year began with a What The Pitta social and I got to meet lots of people. Regular socials/food outings were held, as well as events like a sushi-making class, film screenings and talks. My favourite event was a volunteering trip to Friends Farm Animal Sanctuary, where we got to spend time with the animals. Last academic year, because I had enjoyed my experience with KCL VegSoc so much, I decided to apply for a committee position and ended up in the role of President. Unfortunately, this year was online, so we were very limited in what we could do, but our goal was to approach vegetarianism and veganism from a number of different perspectives: looking at the ethical implications, the environmental ramifications and the how it effects your health. Being online, however, meant that we were able to get some massive speakers for events such as Gene Stone and Carol J. Adams.”

King’s 4 Change

King’s 4 Change aims to encourage the King’s student community to act together for power, social justice and political change.

Recent campaigns run by King’s 4 Change include Just Transition, which focused on thinking about how we can make climate action more inclusive and attentive to the experiences of all people. Their Energy Campaign aimed to combat both climate injustice and economic injustice by encouraging people to switch to cheaper, fairer and more environmentally-friendly energy prodivers.

As put by King’s 4 Change co-founder Abigail Oyedele, “our aim is to train students in community organising methods […]. We want to give students the tools to get involved in community organising on a larger scale and make a change at King’s.”

Find out more.

KCL Green Finance Society

Increasing student awareness and access to careers in finance that promote climate action focusing on renewable energy, banking and ESG investments.

King’s Impact Investing Society (KIIS)

KIIS explores how financial instruments can address social and environmental challenges in addition to generating profitable returns. Since 2016, they have been supporting and inspiring students to pursue rewarding careers in these growing fields. Find out more.

KCL Environmental Law Society

Environmental Law & Regulation Society is a newly established King’s College London society that is dedicated to students who are interested in environmental laws and regulations, as well as their impact on businesses, law firms, and the public. The Society aims to explore environmental law from a legal, business, governance, and social perspective. Find out more.

King’s Innovative and Sustainable Dentistry

King’s Innovative and Sustainable Dentistry (KISD) is ONE society with TWO values at its core:

  1. Keep dental students at the forefront of technological innovations, allowing the integration of technology into routine practices in the future.
  2. Raise awareness about the impact of dentistry on the environment and give students the tools to practice dentistry sustainably.

Find out more.

Students for Global Health KCL

Those of you who are familiar with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will know that sustainability encompasses much more than environmental concerns. Specifically, SDG 3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” focuses on global health.

The King’s branch of Students for Global Health UK aims to empower students to envision a fairer and more just world in which equity in health is a reality for all, as well as take action on these issues. Last year, they hosted an incredible range of events covering themes such as Decolonising Healthcare, Global Mental Health, and Social Determinants of Health. Follow their Instagram for updates, resources and other informative posts, and sign up to their mailing list.

Fetch Ur Veg

Fetch Ur Veg is a student-run cooperative providing weekly veg bag deliveries. Their overall goal is to encourage a healthy and sustainable lifestyle for students.

“Our main goal is to offer a more sustainable way of getting your vegetable groceries and maybe stepping out of your comfort zone and encouraging yourself to cook with different ingredients. Each bag comes with a leaflet with recipes and cooking tips. Contrary to the supermarket, the vegetables you get are still covered in dirt. So you get an overall healthier diet, with a diverse set of vegetables that are not stripped of their nutrients or chemically processed and cleaned, and it just really makes you appreciate the food a lot more!” – Mia Lewis, outgoing president of Fetch Ur Veg.

In addition to delivering weekly veg bags, Fetch Ur Veg offer volunteering opportunities to interested students and staff. Join them if you’re looking for a break from coursework and want to spend a couple hours outdoors, packing vegetables with a lovely group of people in Kentish Town. Follow them on Instagram for updates!

KCL Women and Politics Society

The Women and Politics Society aim to promote and enhance women’s leadership and influence in politics. Through discussion panels and conferences, the team hope to inform and inspire young women and others to participate in politics and engage in advocacy. Follow them on Instagram for more information.

The society also runs its own online magazine, The Clandestine“a platform to lift those who have been forced into secrecy, up into that which is public.” 

King’s Think Tank

King’s Think Tank is Europe’s largest student-led policy institute. It aims to provide a platform for students to engage with the world of policy and organises policy workshops, panel discussions and lobbying trips.

KTT run a blog with critical analyses of past and current issues, as well as publish their annual policy-recommendation journal, The Spectrum.

With seven policy centres, including the Education, Energy and Environment or Global Health centres, students interested in sustainability can write for the blog or policy journal.


The King’s branch of Extinction Rebellion. Their long-term goal is to combat the climate crisis and they collaborate closely with the broader XR Universities network.

KCLXR is still a relatively young society – join them to help them grow and meet like-minded individuals.

KCL Cycling Club

This club is for everything bikes! From city cruiser commuters to weekend warriors and lycra-clad bike lovers, this club is for anybody who likes to get on two wheels.

The KCC is much more than a cycling club, it is a cycling community.

Meet the King’s Sustainability Team

As we approach a new academic year, we wanted to take the time to introduce ourselves – the people behind sustainability at King’s!

Kat Thorne – Director of Sustainability

Kat is the director of Sustainability at King’s and oversees all aspects of embedding sustainability across the college. Kat not only manages the sustainability team but decides on its overarching environmental aims and objectives. She also decides, with input from the wider Estates and Facilities team, on the projects and programs and strategies and actions plans required to deliver on those aims and objectives. She has nurtured the sustainability team to where they are today, ensuring that both staff and students are aware of the importance of their role in ensuring King’s reaches its net Zero Carbon Target by 2025. She held the same position at the University of Greenwich until 2013, helping the university achieve first place in People & Planet’s Green League.  


Nicola Hogan – Sustainability Manager (Operations)

Nicola’s main responsibility is ensuring King’s continues to be accredited with the environmental management system ISO14001 and that sustainability is built into the design and construction of any new buildings and refurbishments across the estate.  Nicola also manages several other and varied aspects of environmental operations at King’s ensuring each of the campuses environmental footprint remains a small as practicable.  Prior to joining the team, Nicola worked at Goldsmiths, University of London, the EAUC and the University of Limerick – in both managerial and research roles. 


Josh Pullen – Waste to Resource Project Coordinator

Josh is managing the Waste to Resources project which aims to increase the university’s non-hazardous waste recycling rate to 70% and increase the reuse of bulky waste such as furniture.


Maria Rabanser – Sustainability Officer

Maria manages the King’s Climate Action Network (King’s CAN) and works on the development of our Climate Action Strategy, as well as on sustainability data and reporting.

She graduated from the Department of Geography at King’s in 2015 and completed an MSc at LSE before joining the  Sustainability Team in September 2016.


Ali Hepple – Sustainability Officer

Ali’s main focus is around engagement, organising events, supporting the 500+ staff in the Sustainability Champions programme and students across the university on various projects.

She joined the Sustainability Team in October 2018 after completing her BA in Geography at King’s. During her degree, she supported the University of London’s Reduce the Juice programme, developed an initiative to introduce vegan meals in University of London halls, and supported King’s Food in submitting their first  Sustainable Restaurant Association rating.


Julie Allen – Energy Manager

Julie manages King’s Energy, which includes the utilities budgets and contracts, and leads on delivering, updating and monitoring the University’s Carbon Management Plan. She is continually searching for energy-saving opportunities to reduce King’s emissions and overall environmental impact.



Angeliki Karydi – Energy Management Coordinator

Angeliki joined King’s in December 2019, after completing her MA in Corporate Sustainability at Radboud University. She supports Julie as part of the energy team and is responsible for energy data analysis and reporting.


Jone de Roode Jauregui – Climate Action Assistant

Jone supports our work around climate action and the development of the Climate Action Strategy.

She recently completed her BSc in International Management at King’s,  during which time she was actively involved in the King’s CAN, as a sub-group member and team volunteer.


Rachel Harrington-Abrams – Climate Action Assistant

Rachel supports our work coordinating climate-related research and education across the university as part of the King’s Climate Action Strategy. 

She is also a PhD student in the Department of Geography, researching the multilateral governance of climate change adaptation decision-making, and works in the Sustainability team alongside her PhD for two days a week. 


Emily Read – Engagement Assistant

Emily supports the team with engagement and communications, and leads on the forthcoming sustainability podcast.

She is also completing her PhD in Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine at King’s.


Bethan Spacey – Engagement Assistant

Bethan supports the team with engagement and communications, and leads on creating digital content.

She is also a 3rd year BA English student at King’s, and former president of King’s VegSoc.


Helena Fazeli – Engagement Assistant

Helena supports the team with engagement and communications, and leads on the Sustainability newsletter and blog.

She completed her BA in Geography at King’s in 2020 and recently moved back to London after living in Chios, Greece and volunteering with an education-focused NGO working with asylum-seekers and refugees.