University of Galway named national Sustainable Development Goals Champion

Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Deputy President and Registrar, Dr John Caulfield, Director of Strategy Implementation, and Michelle O’Dowd Lohan, Community and University Sustainability Officer, represented University of Galway at the National Sustainability Stakeholders Forum, where the University was awarded SDG Champion status by Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan. Credit - Julien Behal.
May 03 2023 Posted: 14:37 IST

University of Galway has today been designated as a national Sustainable Development Goal Champion for 2023-24 by Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan T.D. 

The designation recognises the leading role the University is playing in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

University of Galway is the first university to hold this honour, joining 21 other newly appointed and four former SDG Champions announced by Minister Ryan across a range of industries and sectors, including the GAA, RTÉ, An Post, Tesco and the FAI. 

The role of an SDG Champion is to raise public awareness of the SDGs and act as a good practice example of how an organisation can contribute to and integrate the SDGs into their work and activities. 

University of Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “University of Galway is delighted to be designated as SDG Champion this year. Our university community has defined sustainability and openness as two of our core values, and in this spirit we will make good use of our SDG Champion status to highlight the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals for our students, our society and our planet. Over the next 12 months, we will highlight the work we do for the public good on campus and more generally in our teaching, research and engagement. We also look forward to partnering with other like-minded organisations to progress the SDGs.”

The awarding of SDG Champion status acknowledges many years of hard work embedding the SDGs on multiple levels across the University. 

  • Researchers at University of Galway have developed a global reputation for medtech, marine and environmental research, sustainable energy solutions, data analytics, culture and creativity, all having an important role to play in the implementation of the SDGs. 


  • Lecturers are embedding sustainability across the curriculum and the University has developed a new tracking tool to determine the SDG content of our courses.  


  • Since 2006, the University has exceeded targets by decreasing its energy usage across campus by over 50%.


  • Our campus and buildings are test-beds for positive sustainable actions and our Galway city campus is the most biodiverse university campus in Ireland. 


  • The University was awarded the Green Flag in 2019 and 2022, and the Biodiversity Trail promotes the campus as an educational and recreational resource. 

Our latest Annual Sustainability Report includes an individual report on each of the 17 SDGs and provides examples of its leadership in tackling the SDGs in three ways: Students and Learning;  Research; and Community Engagement. 

Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Deputy President and Registrar, said: “As SDG Champion, University of Galway now has an opportunity to act as an advocate of the UN Goals, and inspire others, especially those in higher education, to commit and contribute to Ireland achieving its targets.”

Michelle O’Dowd Lohan, Sustainability Officer at University of Galway, said: “Becoming an SDG Champion is an ideal opportunity for us to raise awareness and increase visibility of the SDGs on campus and beyond and to re-energise our campus community around proactive sustainable behaviours. We recognise the crucial role that our students play in advancing the SDGs.  As part of our SDG Champion tenure, we are delighted to announce that two University of Galway students, Adam Mullins and Ciara Varley have been awarded SDG Student Sustainability Internships to advance SDG-related projects and research over the summer.”

University of Galway was recognised by the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022 as the No.1 University in Ireland and Top 50 in the World for its efforts in progressing the SDGs. It is also ranked 5th in the world for its progress on SDG 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production. 

University of Galway is a signatory to the SDG Accord and a number of our sustainability case studies feature in the international SDG Accord Report 2022. The University’s approach to progressing the SDGs is featured as a case study in Ireland’s Second National Implementation Plan for the Sustainable Development Goals 2022- 2024. 

University of Galway is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and is listed as a top performer in the AASHE 2022 Sustainable Campus Index. In November 2021 it received a STARS gold rating for its sustainability achievements.

University of Galway’s Annual Sustainability Report is available at 


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