University of Galway ranked 34th in the world for sustainability

President of University of Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh with the University's Sustainability Officer Michelle O’Dowd Lohan and Established Professor and Director of Research & Innovation, School of Engineering Jamie Goggins, who was formerly Chair of University of Galway's Community University Sustainability Partnership (CUSP), to mark achievements in THE Impact rankings. Credit Aengus McMahon.
Jun 01 2023 Posted: 12:03 IST

THE Impact Rankings place University of Galway number 1 among Irish universities for addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals



University of Galway has been named the number one university in Ireland for sustainable development for a second year in a row.

The accolade has been awarded by THE Impact rankings in recognition of University of Galway’s progress in responding to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

  • University of Galway has increased its ranking in the world’s top 50 universities for sustainable development – jumping more than 10 places to 34th
  • THE Impact report cements University of Galway’s position as number one in Ireland for sustainable development 
  • University of Galway recognised globally for significant contribution to progress on 11 of the 17 UN SDGs 
  • World ranking of number 5 for Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12)
  • University of Galway ranked top 50 for 7 of the 17 SDGs 


President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “University of Galway being ranked again this year in the top 50 among the universities of the world is a huge achievement. It is also a remarkable recognition to be embedded as the number one, the leading university in Ireland for the work and progress we have made on our core value of sustainability.

“Building on local impact through our work with Galway City Council on the EU-funded ZeroNetCarbon Cities pilot, our national recognition as the first and only university to be recognised as a Sustainable Development Champion, we are leading internationally as well. 

“Huge credit goes to staff across our university for making this happen, in our teaching and learning, in our research and in our day to day operations. Equally, credit is due to our students who put sustainability to the forefront of our agenda as we developed our 2020-2025 strategy Shared Vision, Shaped by Values. This has happened because of the energy, passion and enthusiasm of our empowered university community.

“Sustainability and climate action are the urgencies of this moment.  At this time and from this place, University of Galway is glad to lead, for the public good.”


The 2023 edition of Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings ranks the University 34th out of 1,591 institutions across the world.

Assessments for THE Impact rankings are based on submissions from universities around the world in line with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The report is a measure of the extent to which institutions are having a positive social and economic impact on the planet; from climate action and gender equality, to good health and well-being.

University of Galway’s ranking is even more impressive with new universities entering THE Impact in 2023.


Deputy President and Registrar of University of Galway, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Chair of the University Sustainability Advisory Board, said: “There is a great team behind the University’s achievements on this front and being recognised by THE Impact rankings, and an even more important sense of collaboration among staff and students, where the wider community can be seen taking on the challenge of the United Nations SDGs. 

“I’d like to commend the hard work of everyone involved. University of Galway’s progression on this front has been immense, surging from 82nd in 2021, before breaking into the top 50 in 2022 at 47th place and now a superb 34th in the world. The result is a symbol of what we can achieve when we work together, with a common goal, and support one another in those ambitions.”


Some of the initiatives and developments that the University has pursued include:  

  • University of Galway designated as a national SDG Champion for 2023-24, the first university in Ireland to hold this honour.
  • 300 course modules cover sustainability issues and a new Introduction to Sustainability module is available in 56 courses across three colleges, with the aim to make it available to all students. 
  • A €5m Global Challenges Fund was established aligned to sustainability to support research on issues affecting humanity.
  • Since 2006 we have reduced energy consumption by 50% and exceeded national targets on energy efficiency. We have installed more than 500kW of solar PV and 7,000 LED light fittings. We have embarked on a geothermal heat pump project on campus to heat the swimming pool in our Sports Centre and 22 EV charge points on campus.
  • CÚRAM, the SFI research centre at University of Galway, is the first in Europe to be awarded Green Lab Certification; 28 additional labs have received greening certification and we plan to double this number by the end of the year.
  • Our campus is one of the most biodiverse in Ireland: we hold An Táisce Green Campus Flag. We have introduced new wildflower enhancement schemes, bird boxes, bat boxes, insect hotels, beehives, a pollinator friendly pesticide code and a log tree hive. 
  • We have introduced a new organic waste circular economy process and a new deposit and return scheme for reusable cups.
  • Partnering for the The Mary Robinson Climate Conference, delivered by The Mary Robinson Centre, along with Ballina 2023, Mayo County Council, sponsored by IPB Insurance and Eirgrid and co-hosting a European Commission conference on Atlantic ocean research, also in July.

University of Galway performed strongly across a number of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to secure a ranking of 34th in the world.


According to THE Impact, the University is top 50 in seven areas and retained the top 10 rank in one area: 

  • Ranked 5th in the world for SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production (same as 2022) 
  • Ranked 21st for SDG 14: Life Below Water, up 10 places 
  • Ranked 23rd for SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy, up from 75th 
  • Ranked 43rd for SDG 3: Good Health & Wellbeing, up from 51st
  • Ranked 44th for SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Ranked 47th for SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals, up from 63rd 
  • Ranked 50th for SDG 16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institution, up from 59th


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