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Climate change projects exhibited at student sustainability conference

Leeds Beckett University hosted its first ever student sustainability conference on 19 November to understand the work our students have done to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Mark Warner speaking at student sustainability conference

The one-day event explored all aspects of sustainability and provided an opportunity for students and graduates to present projects which utilised latest research.

The aim of the conference was to promote peer-to-peer learning and raise the profile of sustainability within our university.

A wide-range of submissions were exhibited from sustainable tourism and environmental education in a developing country to edible packaging and mental health.

The university has the potential to be a leader in sustainability which is the number one issue for students right now, according to Leeds Beckett University’s Sustainability Manager Mark Warner. 

He said: “People are becoming far more aware and have woken up to the fact that we have to take true sustainable development seriously.

“The point behind the conference is to hear what students have to say, what they think the best solutions are and understand the best ways to implement those solutions.

“It’s a really important conference and it’s vital that we get students from different schools talking to each other, because they all want to save the planet, but they come at things from very different viewpoints.

“Time and time again, sustainability has come up as the number one issue for students right now.

“I think the university has the potential to be a leader in sustainability, as every organisation does. I think what we need to do is have these conversations, we need to implement changes and be honest with ourselves.

“If something hasn’t worked, we need to say why it hasn’t and how we can improve. The university is a perfect environment for it. A lot of research is learning from your mistakes.

“I think we’ve got the right mentality to learn from mistakes quicker, get to the right solution and establish ourselves as a top sustainable university.”

Student presenters at sustainability conference

Student presenters (L-R) Lydia Williams, Patricia Fernandez, Georgie Haslam

Attending students were able to offer opinions about the state of the world we live in and ideas on how to improve it during the conference which was held at city campus

Presenters Lydia Williams and Patricia Hernandez designed a Women’s Community Hub based in Tamil Nadu which won a national design award, Engineering without Borders, earlier this year.

The second year BSc Civil Engineering students, who were part of a team of four, used sustainable materials they had sourced locally in south India.

Patricia said: “We decided to design a women’s only community centre based in Tamil Nadu in India, looking at different factors like culture and location, but we also wanted to try and meet as many UN Sustainable Development Goals as possible.

“These goals target many of the different problems we’re facing across the world today, including poverty and inequality.

Lydia added: “We wanted to be sustainable as possible in the materials we used, so instead of importing materials in, the project would use resources on the doorstep.

“Tamil Nadu only has one women’s community, which is visited by over 20,000 women, so we wanted to create a centre that would allow more people from the region to get an education. 

“We won the Engineering Without Borders Award, ahead of 6,000 other entries. Having started a placement year, we’ve gone into our companies and thought immediately about how they can do better at sustainability.

“Obviously it’s going to take time, but it will improve for the better.”

The conference also gave students the chance to discuss the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which are an urgent call for action by all countries in a global partnership. 


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