Category: UN Sustainable Development Goals (Page 1 of 10)

Mental health and sustainability – what’s the link?

This blog post has been adapted from a post written last year by Helena Fazeli for Mental Health Awareness Week. Trigger warning – this blog discusses mental health and suicide.


Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May 2022) is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems. The theme this year is loneliness and the week aims to raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it.

How do mental health and sustainability intersect?

#1 SDG 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all

One of Sustainable Development Goal Three’s (SDG 3) targets is to “reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being”. Awareness of the importance of addressing mental health has increased in recent years, and rightly so: depression represents one of the leading causes of disability, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst 15-29-year-olds, and people with severe mental health conditions are at risk of premature death due to preventable physical conditions (WHO, 2021). Additionally, individuals with mental health conditions may face stigma, discrimination and human rights violations. 

While SDG 3 focuses explicitly on mental health, achieving this target requires progress across all 17 SDGs. Mental health and wellbeing are intricately linked to challenges such as poverty, inequality, work, education, gender, infrastructure, air pollution, access to quality green spaces, peace etc. Not only do these factors increase the risk of poor mental health, but they also impact the accessibility and quality of mental health services. 

One example is emergency contexts, including natural disasters, conflict and forced migrationduring which many individuals will face temporary distress. In the longer term, the prevalence of common mental disorders generally doubles in a humanitarian crisis due to increased poverty, lack of security, separation from family, community and home, and trauma. Overall, it has been estimated that 1 in 5 people living in an area affected by conflict will have a common mental health condition. Finally, it is important to note that climate change is expected to exacerbate many of these issues, thus causing greater and wider distress, which leads us to our next topic… 

#2 Climate change and mental health

When you think about climate change, mental health might not be the first thing that comes to mind. We often discuss climate change on a global scale, in terms of physical processes and tangible, measurable impacts. However, it both directly and indirectly impacts individuals’ and communities’ mental health and psychological well-being. 

Indeed, climate change and its associated impacts (rising sea levels, changing temperatures, extreme weather patterns, wildfires, droughts, food and water insecurity, etc.) put at risk a range of phenomena that people and communities value and rely on in their daily lives, both material and non-material, from homes, landscapes and ecosystems to cultural traditions, livelihoods, identities and social cohesion… From forced displacement to gradual changes in an environment, feelings of loss – loss of place, loss of identity, decreased sense of self – can arise. And, as mentioned above, these impacts are more acutely felt in communities and populations where climate change intersects with pre-existing health conditions, socioeconomic inequities and unequal power dynamics. 

#3 The rise of eco-anxiety 

As with many crises, the climate crisis is causing (justifiably) strong emotional responses, in people and communities around the world. Amongst inspiration and hope for change, feelings of anger, hopelessness, guilt and fear are common and natural. 

Eco-anxiety refers to the stress caused by “watching the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold” or the “feelings of helplessness, anger, […] panic and guilt toward the climate and ecological crisis”Force of Nature has been studying the occurrence of eco-anxiety amongst youth globally. They found that amongst 500 respondents, over 70% had experienced feelings of hopelessness in the face of climate change. 

In recognition of the interconnectedness between the health of our minds, bodies and planet, last year’s Mental Health Awareness Week’s theme was indeed nature. This demonstrates how sustainability refers not only to environmental sustainability but also to social sustainability.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the immensity of the climate crisis, be kind to yourself, and connect with your loved ones and your community. However, if symptoms of anxiety are interfering with your ability to function well and feel good, we encourage you to seek professional help. Here are some ways you can find support at King’s: KCLSU’s wellbeing eventsPositive PeersCounselling and Mental Health supportBlack Students TalkOut-of-hours counselling. You can also find resources here and here

Get involved this Mental Health Awareness Week

Join the Mental Health & Climate Change seminar (13 May)

What are the links between mental health and climate change? What is eco-anxiety? And how can we go about overcoming this?

To mark the UK mental health awareness week, King’s Sustainability will be joined by neuroscientist Dr Kris De Meyer for a lean-forward seminar on mental health & climate change. According to Kris, the best way to combat eco-anxiety is opening up pathways to action, to give the sense that we are not powerless and that we can indeed do something that is meaningful and can make a difference.

Kris will briefly explain the brain basis of eco-anxiety before diving into interesting break-out room activities exploring how to cope with it. Join this interactive seminar led by an expert on eco-anxiety to build your own eco-anxiety “toolkit” by identifying what your personal pathway to action might be in a safe, positive environment.

Kris is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s Department of Neuroimaging and the Director of the UCL Climate Action Unit.

This seminar is part of a series that runs monthly between October ‘21 and June ’22 covering some of the biggest topics in sustainability. If you would like to stay in the loop about upcoming seminars, please sign up here. These seminars are linked to the KEATS Sustainability module which we are piloting this year. You can enrol on the module here.

KCLSU’s Take Time Out (3-20 May)

Take Time Out is taking place until the 20th of May and aims to encourage you to schedule in some time, away from your studies, to boost your wellbeing, take a break and connect with the King’s community. See all events here.

More opportunities at King’s

This coming week, King’s wants to focus on what we can do individually and as a community to foster connections and support each other. Access King’s gyms and BeActive programme for free and join the events on journaling, connecting with charities, a virtual coffee morning, or one of the mindfulness sessions. Find out more here.


Some further reading on the topic

Tackling social inequalities to reduce mental health problems: How everyone can flourish equally

Mental Health and our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance 

The case for systems thinking about climate change and mental health 

Caring for the environment helps to care for your mental health 

Mental health and the environment 

Mental health and wellbeing in the Sustainable Development Goals 

The Lancet Commission on global mental health and sustainable development 

This Must Be the Place: Underrepresentation of Identity and Meaning in Climate Change DecisionMaking

Place identity and climate change adaptation: a synthesis and framework for understanding

“From this place and of this place:” Climate change, sense of place, and health in Nunatsiavut, Canada

Examining relationships between climate change and mental health in the Circumpolar North 

King’s among top 5 UK universities for environmental and social impact

King’s has placed 5th in the UK and 24th in the world in the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, the only global league table that measures universities’ contributions to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). King’s also retained the top position in this ranking among London universities for the fourth consecutive year.

“At King’s, we believe ‘Our Deeds Define Us’ and we are delighted to see this recognised by a position amongst the top 25 universities in the world in the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. This achievement would not be possible without the dedication of the King’s community who fulfil this commitment in a number of inspirational ways.”

– Professor Evelyn Welch, Senior Vice President (Service, People & Planning)

Our highest SDG in the 2022 Impact Rankings is for ‘Life on land’ (SDG 15), for which we ranked joint eighth in the world, an increase of 31 positions from last year. This places King’s among the top 10 universities in the world for research and education that serves to protect and preserve land ecosystems. Our two other top contributing SDGs were ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’ (SDG 11), and ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ (SDG 12).

King’s improved our score on 13 out of the 17 SDGs, ranking among the top 50 universities in the world for 13 SDGs, which demonstrates the breadth of the university’s environmental and social impact. King’s also jumped over 65 places for ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ (SDG 7), and more than 40 places for ‘Gender Equality’ (SDG 5) and ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ (SDG 6).

Find out more here.

Dive into King’s Spotlight on Sustainability podcast

The new series of the Spotlight on Sustainability podcast has landed! In this series, Emily and Abigail will be exploring “Building sustainable communities”. 

Episode 1: How can universities be more inclusive to migrants? With Ria Patel 

In this episode, Ria Patel, founder of the KCL Undoing Borders campaign, Co-Chair of LGBTIQA+ Greens and External Relations Officer for Greens of Colour, talks about the KCL Undoing Borders campaign. This campaign aims to tackle the hostile environment against migrants at universities.  

Episode 2: Why does Equality, Diversity and Inclusion matter? With Sarah Guerra 

In this episode we are very lucky to be joined by Sarah Guerra, Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at King’s to explore what EDI is, why it matters and how you can help make your community accessible for all.

You can access the podcast on Spotify here. We would love to hear your thoughts on this episode; get in touch via the email sustainability@kcl.ac.uk. 

Cycling in London event & survey

Two photographs showing a bike mechanic looking at a bicycle in the courtyard of Bush House.On 3rd March, a cycling event was held at Bush House as part of Sustainability Month to increase awareness and understanding of how students and staff can get started with cycling in London.

The event consisted of a “Dr Bike” session, where external bike maintenance mechanics provided free bike health checks, advice, and small fixes (fully funded by Westminster City Council).

Students were also on hand to provide information to help others get into cycling, particularly focusing on commuting to campus. They discussed where the bike lockers are on campus and how to access them, information offered by external organisations (for example, TFL cycle safety pages and relevant council pages for cycle buddy schemes), and KCL’s Cycling club.


Two photographs showing a bike mechanic looking at a bicycle in the courtyard of Bush House.

The COVID pandemic forced us to rethink how we travel to campus. Cycling was identified as being a safer, more sustainable mode of travel that also supports wellbeing. King’s is keen to support our ‘new ways of working’ so identifying where improvements to cycling provisions need to be made is central to that.

To help us identify what those improvements might be, please could you take this 5-minute survey by 17 May? Your responses will shape how we grow the estate to meet everyone’s needs. Please direct any queries to Ruonan Zhang.

The Careers & Employability Festival starts next week!

How does sustainability tie into a career in healthcare or arts & entertainment? What jobs lie in the environmental sector?

Join this Careers & Employability Festival to hear from professionals who studied subjects from clinical medicine to museum studies to geography and are now part of the Greener NHS Programme, own sustainable fashion businesses, work in climate finance, renewable energy, and more. They will be discussing how they incorporated sustainability into their careers.

Sound intriguing? Find more information and sign up here.

12 April: Be a sustainability changemaker in any and every career.
14 April: Assessing your future organisation’s commitment to sustainability.
26 April: Build your employability for a sustainability career.

Sustainability Month 2022: a true celebration

What a month! Throughout February, we welcomed hundreds of people to more than 20 social and educational events focused on taking action around the Sustainable Development Goals. Organised by students, staff members, and alumni from across disciplines, this month was a true celebration of the breadth of sustainability and the King’s community’s involvement in it.

We learned to reflect on our stories in the climate and nature crisis and got inspired to take action in the events on volunteering, recycled glass, plant-based diets, and greener ways to grow your veg. We learned how we might address the climate crisis from a policy perspective, what digital start-ups can do to advance the SDGs, and what some of the main inequality issues are in South Korea. The interconnectedness of environmental and social sustainability was highlighted during the panel for climate justice and the event on the climate crisis and refugees, and we learned how we might go about translating that into education. The Shots for Hope exhibition and the Visions for the Future workshop series helped us to stay hopeful in the face of the climate crisis.

The month brought people together socially in events such as the sustainability quiz night, stitch and pitch, and the show the love campaign, as well as professionally in the interdisciplinary sustainability research forum and the London Student Sustainability Conference. The events on careers in sustainability helped students explore the breadth of what this means for their future.

If you missed an event, you can find the event recordings here. Not all recordings have been uploaded yet, but we aim to do so as soon as possible. We will also be posting event summaries and reflections on our blog over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for those. If you have any feedback you would like to share, please fill out this feedback form. If you would like to write a blog post on an event you organised or attended, feel free to get in touch.

International Women’s Day 2022: Women, climate change, and ecofeminism

The facts are clear: women and girls are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. This vulnerability has several social, economic and cultural causes, including the fact that the majority of people living in poverty are women, and they are often the ones responsible for putting food and water on the table which is becoming increasingly difficult due to climate change.

However, on this day celebrating the achievements of women, it is important to highlight how women are simultaneously at the forefront of global sustainable development. Women need to be at the heart of climate action, because “women possess unique knowledge and experience, particularly at the local level, their inclusion in decision-making processes is critical to effective climate action” (UN Women, 2022). Studies have shown that women’s participation both at the local level and in national parliaments leads to better outcomes for both people and planet.

“Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach” (UN, 2022). Why is this so important? Let’s explore ecofeminism for some potential answers.

Ecofeminism

First of all, what is ecofeminism? It is a social movement bringing together feminism and environmentalism, arguing that the domination of women and the degradation of the environment have the same root causes: patriarchy and capitalism (Buckingham, 2015). The key word in ecofeminism is domination. According to Vandana Shiva, development and globalisation are a continuation of our obsession with domination of the ‘other’, whether this is nature, women, indigenous peoples, or subordinate classes (Clark, 2012).

Therefore, “any strategy to address one must take into account its impact on the other so that women’s equality should not be achieved at the expense of worsening the environment, and neither should environmental improvements be gained at the expense of women” (Buckingham, 2015). For solutions to be impactful they have to address both feminism and environmentalism and this can only be meaningfully done by reversing current values to prioritise care and cooperation over more aggressive and dominating behaviours.

An inspiring example: Mariama Sonko

Mariama Sonko leads the ecofeminist movement Nous Sommes la Solution (NSS) meaning “we are the solution”, which brings together more than 500 rural women’s associations in Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Mali to promote sustainable agroecology and fight large-scale industrial farming. What ecofeminism means to her? “The respect for all that we have around us.” Doesn’t sound like a too difficult ask to me.


Check out Women4Climate: an initiative aiming to empower and inspire the next generation of women climate leaders.

Get involved in International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women’s History Month at King’s. Check out the events KCLSU is organising throughout the month here, from panel events and movie nights to leadership masterclasses about challenging misogyny and being an ally to women. The chaplaincy is also organising an event to watch and discuss the movie Stranger/Sister. Explore King’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership and their upcoming events here. Find out more about King’s dedicated Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team, the staff gender equality network Elevate, and KCLSU’s Women’s Network.

At King’s, we are slowly moving in the right direction, but there is of course more to do. In 2021, King’s Gender Pay Gap was 14.8%, down from 17.1% the year before. Read the news article on King’s 2021 Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gaps figures here, and while you are at it, check out how King’s has been awarded the Workplace Equality Index Award in recognition of its commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion at work.

Sustainability Month: Week 5

Sustainability Month is drawing to an end, so make sure to make most of these last few exciting events!

Check out the events taking place this and next week:*

Monday 28th 13:00

14:00
Proudly Lunch & Learn: Creating sex, gender and biology (LGBTQ+ History Month) This event will uncover the processes by which understandings of sex, gender and biology are constructed through investigating the relationship between what we deem ‘normal’ and ‘natural’.

 

16:00

17:00
Meet the Farmer – Bismark Kpabitey (Fairtrade Fortnight) Meet Bismark, a cocoa farmer from the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in Ghana, to learn about his life and the faces behind the Fairtrade work.

 

Tuesday 1st 12:00

13:00
Embedding Fairtrade within an Organisation Find out what an exciting career lays ahead of you should you choose sustainable and ethical companies. Hear about the challenges and rewards of embedding Fairtrade in the HE and private sector and supply chains.

 

Wednesday 2nd 13:00

14:00
Global Health and Climate Change (Sustainability Seminar Series) Is climate change the greatest global health threat facing the world in the 21st century? Join Professor Paul Ekins as he explores “the 2021 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: code red for a healthy future”.

 

14:00

15:30
Poetry Lunch & Do Session – International Women’s Day (online and in person) Have you got a vision for a more equal world? Would you like to unleash your creative side? This International Women’s Day we are looking to collect your ideas of how things would be different in a more equal world.

 

18:00

19:30
Mind the (Finance) Gap – Mitigation & Adaptation Finance (organised by Imperial and Oxford) Expert panellists will share their insights on topics such as scaling up sustainable finance for the transition to net-zero, managing risks and developing the necessary skills and technology at this inter-university event.

 

Thursday 3rd 11:00

14:00
Cycling in London Swing by the Bush House Courtyard for free bike health checks, advice and small fixes, as well as all the information you need including locating bike lockers on campus, the TfL cycle safety pages, cycle buddy schemes and the KCL Cycling Club.

 

Friday 4th 9:30

11:00
The World We Want to Create – A Vision for the Future What positive world could we create if more people addressed the climate emergency? This new, fortnightly interactive event series focuses on the possibilities of a better world to motivate climate action.

 

17:45

19:15
Book Event with Paul Mendez – Author of “Rainbow Milk” (LGBTQ+ History Month) The LGBT+ Book Club invites Paul Mendez to discuss his queer novel “Rainbow Milk” which follows nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing.

 

Monday 7th 16:00

18:00
Inequality in South Korea and Squid Game This event will focus on four main issues in Korea: migrant labour and racism, labour relations and capitalism, North Korean defector, and gender Inequality and its non-awareness and invisibility. These topics feature dominantly in the popular Netflix Series “Squid Game”.

 

Tuesday 8th 12:00

13:00
International Women’s Day Elevate (King’s Staff Gender Equality Network) and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team are planning events for International Women’s Day including a poetry recital. Register your interest here to stay in the loop.

 

* Please note some events were postponed due to the strikes. You can find the most recent updates here.

Sustainability Month: Week 4

Time is flying by this Sustainability Month!

Sustainability Month is a collaboration between King’s and KCLSU that offers all those involved an opportunity to learn more about sustainability topics, collaborate and connect with others from across King’s and #TakeAction on the climate crisis.

Check out the events taking place this week (21st to 25th of February)*

Monday 11:00

12:00
Stitch and Pitch Join this new creativity and ideas session with your stitching project, or come to learn a new skill. This session’s discussion topic: SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities.
14:00

15:00
QCGBF Virtual Seminar Series – The Macroeconomic Cost of Climate Volatility (by QCGBF) The Qatar Centre for Global Banking & Finance welcomes Haroon Mumtaz from Queen Mary University of London and Piergiorgio Alessandri from the Bank of Italy to discuss the impact of climate volatility on economic growth.
Tuesday 12:00

13:00
Sustainability meetup (Bush House Activity Room F, 8th floor SE wing) Meet students and societies involved in sustainability and find out how the King’s Sustainability Team can support you with promotions, support for events, and funding. Email Tasnia if you have any questions.
14:00

16:00
Achieving Education for Sustainable Development – A Panel Event Have you ever wondered what Education for Sustainable Development is and how we can incorporate it? This panel will explore how we can achieve an educational practice that encourages change in knowledge, skills, values and attitudes, to enable a more sustainable and just society for all.
18:00

19:00
How to break into sustainability – a guide for an impactful career This event will provide students with insight into sustainable careers through 3 guest speakers with different backgrounds in sustainability.
Wednesday 14:00

16:00
Fair Energy Forum In this workshop, you will learn about the issues within the energy sector and the causes and consequences of the current energy emergency. You will brainstorm solutions, redesign policies and contribute to challenging injustice through community organising.
Thursday 12:00

13:00
LGBTQ+ Allyship Leadership Class (LGBTQ+ History Month) To mark LGBTQ+ History Month, KCLSU is offering a Leadership Class helping you understand and learn how to practice allyship with the LGBTQ+ community.
12:30

17:30
London Student Sustainability Conference Join this inter-university, student-led conference to broaden your knowledge of the challenges and solutions to today’s most critical issues; network with students, academics and professionals from universities across London; and gain inspiration for your own research or dissertation projects.
15:00

16:30
Digital Sustainability – How any start-up with an online presence can deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals Emissions from digital industries match those of aviation and are growing. This event will explore how start-up founders with digital products and services can, and must, act on sustainability.
Friday 11:00

12:00
LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in STEM (and beyond) (LGBTQ+ History Month) This session will discuss findings from recent surveys of LGBTQ+ individuals working in STEM, and ways in which everyone can help make our university a diverse and welcoming place.
13:00

14:00
Lunch & Learn – Service at King’s & Sustainability Come along to this interactive session to discover how you can take action by volunteering for the SDGs and find out about the new and exciting volunteering service.

*Please note there might be changes due to the strikes. You can find the most recent updates here.

More things to check out throughout the month:

  • Visit our Shots for Hope exhibition in The Exchange, Bush House between 2 February and 3 March. The exhibition features photos submitted by King’s students and staff that inspired hope.
  • This month coincides with LGBTQ+ History Month – make sure to get involved in that too.
  • Join the King’s Move challenge: get active by switching up your typical commute for something more active this February.

All registration is done via Eventbrite. Don’t forget to follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for updates and discussion!

Sustainability Month: Week 3

Sustainability Month is already in its third week!

Sustainability Month is a collaboration between King’s and KCLSU that offers all those involved an opportunity to learn more about sustainability topics, collaborate and connect with others from across King’s and #TakeAction on the climate crisis.

Check out the events taking place this week (14th to 18th of February)*

Monday 15:30

17:00
The World We Want to Create – A Vision for the Future

 

What positive world could we create if more people addressed the climate emergency? This new, fortnightly interactive event series focuses on the possibilities of a better world to motivate climate action. 
Tuesday 18:30

19:30
Diet and Sustainability – how to eat to fight climate change (CANCELLED) This event will discuss the close link between diet and sustainability, focusing on the benefits of a plant-based diet and its implications for sustainable food systems and the environment. 
Wednesday 13:00

14:00
Proudly King’s History Month Quiz! Lunchtime social (LGBTQ+)  This LGBTQ+ lunchtime quiz covers trailblazers, pop culture and more. Fun AND educational? Sign up. 
18:00

21:00
Seminars on environmental education debate strategies to teach for a sustainable future (Brazil Week)

 

Specialists from the UK and Brazil will lead roundtables to discuss environmental education and practical approaches to implementing it (day 1). 
18:00

20:00
Climate, environment and security in the Amazon rainforest (Brazil Week)

 

This panel aims to present multidimensional perspectives to sustainability policies, international cooperation, national security, and sovereignty in the Amazon region. 
Thursday 18:00

21:00
Seminars on environmental education debate strategies to teach for a sustainable future (Brazil Week)  Specialists from the UK and Brazil will lead roundtables to discuss environmental education and practical approaches to implementing it (day 2).

 

18:30

19:30
The Climate Crisis and Refugees

 

This event will educate King’s students and staff on migrant rights, and examine the links between climate change and migration. 
Friday 17:00

18:30
Amazon deforestation in the context of international relations of Brazil (Brazil Week)  Join forest engineer Virgilio Viana for this lecture on the deforestation of the Amazon and its effects on international relations in Brazil.

 

18:00

19:30
Careers in Sustainability Q&A Panel (w/ KCL Geography Society)

 

This event will explore environmental, economic and social careers in sustainability, and discuss networking opportunities that exist for students. 

*Please note there have been some changes due to the strikes. You can find the most recent updates here.

More things to check out throughout the month:

  • Visit our Shots for Hope exhibition in The Exchange, Bush House between 2 February and 3 March. The exhibition features photos submitted by King’s students and staff that inspired hope.
  • This month coincides with LGBTQ+ History Month – make sure to get involved in that too.
  • Join the King’s Move challenge: get active by switching up your typical commute for something more active this February.

All registration is done via Eventbrite. Don’t forget to follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for updates and discussion!

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