PRME UK and Ireland chapter(UKI) and Oxford Brookes University Writing Competition

In February this year, I entered a writing competition conducted by the PRME UK and Ireland chapter(UKI) and Oxford Brookes University. This is the second year the competition is being conducted with the aim of promoting understanding of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The concept is that though every year business and management students produce insightful work about sustainability issues, business ethics dilemma and responsible business and management practise as part of their course, it is rarely read by more than a few. Hence, the writing competition is established as an opportunity for students to be assessed by experts and provide wider readership for their work.  I am happy that my submission has been selected as one of the Top 10 finalists amongst entries submitted by Post Graduate students from all across the UK and Ireland. My work will also be published shortly on the PRME website.


I submitted the essay that I had written for the Responsible and sustainable leadership module, led by Prof. Mollie Painter-Morland. My essay analysed the sustainability report of a leading oil and natural gas company, assessing its stakeholder practices, sustainability reporting practices using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards and the company’s contribution to SDG-13, that deals with urgent action to combat climate change. Though the company fared well on some of these measures, it was found to be under a lot of pressure from its shareholders and environmental, social and government (ESG) organisations to set sustainability targets and faced the risk of the loss of institutional investors if it failed to do so. Hence, I suggested a socially responsible investment to the company in green energy storage research with a cross-collaboration model starting with a company such as Alphabet with a Cambridge model of leadership. I drew from examples of states such as California that suffered from excess green energy production and built a case for green energy storage research as such an investment could create long-term value for the company and the society.

As I was researching for the essay, the importance of green energy storage became very evident to me. With the cash reserves enjoyed by oil and gas companies, such investments seem viable and thus it became the essence of my essay. I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing on this topic and truly believe that such investments are necessary if green energy can be used on a large scale in the future. I hope this is just the start on the path of sustainability for me and hope to research more such issues in the future.



-This blog post was written by Deepa Anantha Narayana an NTU Student in the Nottingham Business School. Many thanks from the Green Academy! 

Low-carbon diet: The food fad that’s good for the environment

If you aren’t already worried about climate change, you probably should be. Melting ice-caps, rising sea-levels and extreme weather – indicators that all is not right with the world, and us humans definitely have a hand in it!

Sustainability, low-waste living and plant-based lifestyles are all hot topics for anyone interested in reducing their carbon footprint and diet is one of the best places to start.


A low-carbon diet is all about adapting your lifestyle to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. At the heart of this is thinking about your food: how it is prepared, packaged, processed and transported to reduce your impact on the environment. A low-carbon diet aims to reduce the amount of plastics used and cuts down on meat and dairy consumption because of the large quantities of methane and carbon dioxide this industry puts into the atmosphere.

When constructing a low-carbon recipe look for foods first and foremost that are grown in the UK, as they will have travelled less, and recipes free from meat and dairy. One of my favourite dishes is tagine – a north African dish that can be adapted to fit locally sourced foods.


Tagine Serves: 2-4


Butternut Squash x1

Red Onion x1-2

Red pepper x1

Garlic x a few bulbs

Can of Chickpeas x1

Can of chopped tomatoes/passata x1

Rapeseed oil x2 tablespoons

Seasoning: harissa paste, ras-el-hanout or a spice mix of smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, chilli, ground black pepper, salt



200g plain flour/bread flour + extra for dusting

100ml warm water

Pinch of salt

½ tablespoon of oil


Roughly chop the red onion, pepper and garlic and fry in the rapeseed oil. Cook until soft.

Peel, deseed and chop and butternut squash and add to the pan. Coat in the harissa paste/spice-mix.

Add the can of chopped tomatoes/passata and an equal amount of water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down. Cook until the butternut squash is soft and the sauce has reduced. Add more water if necessary.

Whilst the tagine is cooking, make the flatbreads. Mix the flour, water, salt and oil in a bowl. Add more flour/water if the consistency is too dry/wet. Knead on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes until smooth and stretchy. Portion the dough into 4/6 balls and roll them out into thin discs. Heat a pan and dry fry your flatbreads. If you don’t have a non-stick pan, you can use a bit of oil to make sure they don’t stick.

Whilst this dish may sound exotic, the vast majority of the ingredients can be sourced from the UK. Go plastic-free where possible and recycle what packaging you can. Everyone is capable of making a difference, no matter how small, and making small changed to your diet can do wonders for the planet.


-This blog post was written by Claudia Minett an NTU Staff member in the academic registry. Many thanks from the Green Academy! 


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Plastic Planet launches at NTU

In April, Nottingham Trent University’s Sustainable Development Team launched the Plastic Planet campaign with engagement stalls at City, Clifton and Brackenhurst campuses. The aim of the campaign is to work with other departments, as well as with students and staff, to encourage positive behaviour changes that reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic used around NTU.

During the launch week, we asked students and staff to make a ‘Plastic Pledge’ – a small change they could make such as switching to a bamboo toothbrush or refusing plastic straws. Everyone that got involved entered our raffle to win plastic-reducing prizes such as lunch boxes and reusable water bottles.

PP 1

We also asked for feedback on what NTU could do better. The University uses many different plastic items for all types of purposes so it is useful to hear from people that have noticed potential improvements. Many people we spoke to highlighted their concerns over the disposables used in the Dine outlets. The catering department is currently liaising with the Sustainable Development Team while exploring recyclable and biodegradable options and they are very keen to make sustainable changes wherever appropriate. Additionally, the water point locations are now on the Sustainability webpages and we are planning to install new water points to reduce the demand for bottled drinks.


Going forward, the Sustainable Development Team will be exploring providing reusable water bottles and coffee cups at the start of the academic year. We also hope to host waste reducing events to engage students, staff and the public, such as zero waste shops/stalls, and we will continue to work with other departments to encourage positive changes. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please email We hope to make a big difference to the amount of single-use plastic seen around NTU so watch this space!


-This blog post was written by Kate Divey-Matthews the Environmental Engagement Assistant in the Sustainable Development Team at NTU. Many thanks from the Green Academy! 

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Music : A vehicle for sustainability


music and sdgs

Iolly Amancio, a talented singer from Rio, who is one among many that use music to achieve sustainability

Music is a global universe language. It tells stories and takes us on journeys. It’s a way for many people across the globe to express their emotions. Music can be many things, yet it has never been looked at as a way of achieving sustainability.

A tool to improve individual and community well-being, to develop skills and education, and creating pathways out of poverty, music has the power to bring about national, regional and local benefits across a number SDGs.

Whether a fight against prejudice or a way to simplify worldviews, collective musical practice helps improve cohesion among groups of people who may be completely different from each other.

In the past few years, the potential of music to effectively bring about change has been explored in a number of ways.

An inspiring anecdote that perfectly highlights the role of music in sustainability, is the story Iolly Amancio, a brave and talented woman from the sprawling suburbs of Rio de Janeiro.

A black, poor singer from the outskirts of the city, Iolly fought discrimination and poverty to rise to success as the lead vocalist for local rock’n’roll band,Gente.

A proud participant of a UNDP-led pilot project that aims to harness transformative powers of music and the arts as a major force to implement the 2030 agenda and its global goals.

Iolly made her first journey out of Brazil to the famous Chelsea Film Festival in New York to deliver a presentation. The festival also featured the documentary film Baixada Never Gives Up.

Baixada is one of the most violent metropolitan regions on Earth. The film presented the collective of artists and musicians who got together in an initiative, to fight the injustice, violence, and discrimination that was rampant in the city of four million people.

From its inception in June 2016 till now, the project with its ethos of leaving no one behind has seen a massive growth to six million participants throughout Brazil.

From the production of a promo CD with 7 SDG-related songs, ranging from reggae, to rock’n’roll to rap all of which involve the youth of Baixada, two major music videos that embody the spirit of never giving up, the collective is a powerful force to motivate citizen action for a better future.

Another example of music making its mark in the achievement of SDGs is the hip-hop music video which breaks down the complex 17 SDGs into easy to understand concepts, thus inspiring young people around the world to take action in support of the UN development agenda.

A video which was dedicated to International Peace Day serves as a great example music can play in breaking down the complexity of the SDGs into easily achievable goals.

Music is often thought to be a form of entertainment. A way to switch off from the real world. But stories and initiatives like these prove that music can function as a vehicle to present real-world issues in one of the most empowering and accessible ways possible.

Watch the music video below;


-This blog post was written by Malvika Padin, NTU student, B.A Journalism. Many thanks from the Green Academy! 

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Brackenhurst Tree Planting

During the week beginning 19th February, volunteers from NTU and beyond planted approximately 1700 native trees in Orwin’s Field on Brackenhurst Campus.

The majority of the trees are part of an academic research project on the impact of different species on soil pH. These trees were planted in squares of 100 equally spaced whips, with each square being made up of one species – either Scott’s pine, pedunculate oak, alder or field maple. An additional mix of native species was planted along the edge of the field to provide a more natural habitat for wildlife.

More than 40 students, including members of the Conservation Society, volunteered their time planting the trees. Four volunteers attend in association with Age UK and their dedicated section will be marked with a plaque. Several members of the Keeping It Wild youth group came from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for the day as well. Staff from the Sustainable Development Team also enjoyed an afternoon of planting and problem solving as they plotted the exact locations of the next blocks of trees.

1Age UK and student volunteers

The area is the second of a series of planned woodlands around the estate with the aims of carbon sequestration and habitat creation. The first woodland of 2500 trees was planted with volunteers in March 2017 at Parkside Close and we hope to be able to plant more areas in the next couple of years. Both areas have been supported by funding from the Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods scheme and will be registered with the Forestry Commission’s Carbon Code.

2Keeping It Wild volunteers from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

This was my first experience of planting a woodland and leading volunteers but I loved being outside all week, especially when the sun came out, and it was great to see our progress. The volunteers really got stuck in and some even came back for more. Getting so many trees in the ground by the end of the week felt like a big achievement because a lot of work and coordination between staff, the Woodland Trust and the nursery went into planning the planting. I hope that the trees grow successfully and provide habitats and research opportunities for years to come.

3-e1520859060752.pngEach tree has a protective guard to prevent it being eaten by animals



-This blog post was written by Kate Divey-Matthews the Environmental Engagement Assistant in the Sustainable Development Team at NTU. Many thanks from the Green Academy! 

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Biophilia – Our Innate Connectedness to Nature

Blog picture Biophilia

E.O Wilson’s Biophilia hypothesis (1995) posits that, as a result of our extensive co-evolutionary histories with our planet’s myriad inhabitants, we possess an innate desire to interact with other species and ‘life-like processes’. Hypotheses surrounding the numerous benefits of communing with our natural evolutionary heritage are not new and are based on more than mere speculation or intuition. An ever-growing body of empirical evidence from disciplines ranging from environmental psychology to the health and biological sciences have shown that exposure to and prolonged contact with natural spaces and animals is strongly correlated with physiologically, psychologically, and socially restorative effects. Interacting with and sometimes even simply viewing nature through a window, for instance, has been found to reduce stress, quicken recovery time for patients who’ve undergone surgery, alleviate depression, confer cognitive benefits such as improved attention and memory, and reinforce social cohesion. A BBC study which sought to assess the effects of watching videos of wildlife on thousands of viewers from over six different countries found that, after watching the videos, viewers reported significant increases in joy, contentment, curiosity, awe, and wonder, and reduced stress and tiredness. It appears that exposure to and communion with the natural world and our co-evolutionary counterparts taps into a deep wellspring of human happiness, one forged by millions of years of evolution, that is more fundamental and enduring than that which one supposedly experiences via material pursuits.

Such findings are truly profound, for they lend legitimacy to something that many have felt for centuries yet weren’t able to articulate or prove concretely: that we are deeply connected to our natural support systems and coevolutionary counterparts on a multitude of levels- historically, culturally, and biologically- and that the grand delusion of human separateness from and superiority to the natural world has been among the greatest myths ever perpetuated. Yet, today during the Anthropocene, the era of disastrous human impacts on the natural world, we’re systematically eroding the very foundations of life and wellbeing. The 6th mass extinction is well under way, portending the loss of 67% of monitored vertebrate species by 2020. Anthropogenic climate change promises more frequent and intense storms, droughts, wildfires, further species decline, and rising seas. All of these crises are largely rooted in the wildly unsustainable production and consumption patterns of contemporary industrial-capitalist societies, predominantly in the Global North where the ecological footprint of its citizenry vastly exceeds that of the Global South, while collectively our species consumes the annual resource equivalent of 1.6 planet earths. By scaling back the human enterprise- namely, by reducing conspicuous consumption, reusing all we can, opting for public transport, vastly reducing highly polluting and resource-intensive activities such as meat and dairy consumption and production, and generally making more room for natural processes and other species to flourish – we can make great strides towards preserving the extraordinary world that makes ours and our fantastic co-evolutionary counterparts’ lives truly worth living.



-This blog post was written by Heather Alberro, a PhD Candidate/Associate Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at NTU

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What was the outcome of COP23 and what happens now?

There have been two busy weeks in Bonn, with negotiations covering everything from the precise wording of a Gender Action Plan to a “rulebook” for the Paris Agreement. In my first blog post, I mentioned three main areas to look out for; the process on making the Paris Agreement operational, the mechanisms developing to increasing action per every fifth year and the highlighting of vulnerable countries and communities.

The negotiations on the Paris Agreement started on Tuesday morning and have continued over the week. Transparency and inclusion of stakeholders have been a major part of the discussions, an important part for democratic Agreement. The work on the rulebook started at COP22 in Marrakesh last year, and the process has covered a broad range including

  • the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) framework
  • how to record work on adaptation
  • making sure members act in compliance with the Paris Agreement
  • ensure transparent reporting of progress in the Agreement

While the “deadline” of this rulebook is COP24 next year, which will be held in Poland, this year’s draft has revealed potential disagreements and the options for moving forward. Look at the COP23 key outcomes agreed at UN Climate Talks for a more detailed summary of the progress on the rulebook.

Another discussion, aka the Talanoa dialogue, has been the work on enhanced ambition, or the mechanisms for increasing action every five years. The outcome of the dialogue highlights three questions; Where are we?, Where do we want to go? and How do we get there?. The document can be found in the Annex of COP23’s outcome decision.

The final point I have followed is Fiji’s focus on vulnerable countries and communities. This focus can be seen in the progress in areas such as a Gender Action Plan, the Ocean Pathway Partnership and the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform.

  • The Gender Action Plan strengthens gender-responsive climate policy and highlights the need to mainstream gender into all activities. It also underlines the need to incorporate women into decision-making and implementation of climate policies.
  • The Ocean Pathway Partnership stresses the need for countries to include the ocean in their work on climate change. It aims to allow for projects working on ocean health and ocean ecosystems to receive UNFCCC funding.
  • The Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform provides a space for an exchange of best practice on mitigation and adaptation measures that respect and safeguard local community and indigenous people.

Undoubtedly, there has been a lot of work in these two weeks, and while we have seen progress, the negotiations have highlighted the need for speed. The increase of climate disasters shows that countries need to evaluate as well as act on their intended nationally determined contributions on reducing emissions and keep this ambition going for COP24 in Poland 2018. Work on climate change is an all-year-round effort, so until next year, have a look at some organisations work.

Help locally with the NTSU Conservation Society or contact the NTU Environment Team to see how you can get involved.

Or nationally at UKYCC, or at a global level with YOUNGO or 350.

Or if you just want to chat about climate change contact me.




-This blog post was written by Alexandra Arntsen, associate lecturer in the Green Academy, on the UNFCCC negotiations at COP23 in Bonn. 

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COP23 – Halftime

The second week of climate negotiations is just starting 384 miles away in Bonn, Germany.

One of my personal areas of interest has been the development of the Gender Action Plan. One can question, why does gender matter when debating climate change? Climate change isn’t fair, meaning, it does not have an even and equal impact in the world. So, for me, raising gender equality as an integral part of the negotiations is about making sure that climate change policies benefit, and not hurt, the most vulnerable. As written by CAN “this is a sprawling challenge, that must recognize human rights”. Mainstreaming gender into climate change policy-making broadens the spotlight to include areas of rights to education and development, rights of indigenous people and migrants, to the right to health, and food security. It allows for a focus on social development alongside technical developments. The latest news is that the delegates have agreed on the text for the Gender Action Plan and that the negotiations are now moving from a “backroom” discussion into the main plenary for approval. I will update you all on my final blog-post in one and a half week’s time!


Another area which has been stressed by developed, as well as developing countries, since the start of the negotiations, is the “Talanoa Dialogue. UNFCCC explains Talanoa as “a traditional word used in Fiji and the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue”[1]. In reference to the climate change negotiations, this refers to the upcoming talks about what countries have done to reach their goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, as well as what has been done in the process towards keeping temperatures below 2°C below above pre-industrial levels. While the Talanoa Dialogue does not officially start until 2018, the groundwork for the rules and design of the process needs to be laid this year. Click here ( if you want more information on the Talanoa Dialogue and its development.

The goal of keeping temperatures below 2°C below above pre-industrial levels is an important part of the Paris Agreement. The negotiations for rules and potential sanctions started on Tuesday morning and have continued over the week. Some main topics have been transparency and the inclusion of stakeholders in climate negotiations. This is important as this gives civil society the opportunity to provide input, lobby as well as hold policymakers accountable. Transparency and participation is a crucial part of making the Paris Agreement democratic. These negotiations are likely to increase in intensity in the last week.

A final note is the great news that Syria has signed up to the Paris Agreement. This currently makes the United States alone in the cold outside. However, despite Trump announcing the US intent to withdraw as soon as possible, this will not be actualised until earliest the 4 November 2020 – that is one day AFTER the next US presidential election. So, there is still hope!




-This blog post was written by Alexandra Arntsen, associate lecturer in the Green Academy, on the UNFCCC negotiations at COP23 in Bonn. 

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What to expect from COP23 – Going into the First Week of the Negotiations

In the next two weeks, the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations are taking place in Bonn, Germany. I first began to follow these negotiations in 2009 when they were in Copenhagen, Denmark. I went there to participate, take part in manifestations, and report back to the organisation I was representing (this includes sleeping on the floor of a school as accommodation). The aim of this blog post is to introduce the negotiations and to highlight some of the main areas of importance of these two weeks.


Just a brief background: the correct terminology for this meeting is COP23 or the 23rd Conference of the Parties. The COP is the main decision-making body of the UNFCCC, an acronym for the very catchy “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”. Basically, the COP is an annual meeting where officials and representatives from 196 countries and one economic union (the EU) meet to negotiate international action on climate change.
The first COP occurred in Berlin in 1995 and we are now 23 years in, hence COP23. During this time two treaties have been agreed; the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and most recently the Paris Agreement (2015). The main aim of these treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent human action from further damaging the climate.

So back to this year. The 2017 negotiations are governed by Fiji and marks an important step for global climate action. The Paris Agreement was a vital step towards a global commitment to combating climate change. COP23 needs to hold on to this spirit in order to ensure global action before it is too late to avoid the most severe consequences of a changing climate. In order to meet the Paris goal of keeping global temperature below 2 degrees C° (or ideally below 1.5 degrees C°) compared to pre-industrial levels, we need global greenhouse gas emissions to start declining by 2020 and reach to zero by 2050. This means that one of the main themes to follow during the COP23 negotiations will be the on how to make the Paris Agreement operational.. This includes negotiations on a framework, guiding the implementation of the agreement. It also covers an agreement on transparency; e.g. public reporting and reviews of countries commitments to act and reduce their emissions. A third vital point is the development of the Paris Agreements mechanism to assess the progress of the commitments and a process for increasing action every fifth year.
Another important thing during this year’s negotiations is that Fiji, in its governing position, has chosen that these negotiations will have a specific focus on vulnerable countries and communities. One of the main principles of the UNFCCC is equity, or “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”. Some actors choose to focus on the word “responsibilities,” and specifically the historical responsibilities developed countries have, due to the greenhouse gases they emitted when growing their economies. Other actors focus on the word “capabilities,” meaning the capacity a country has to deal with climate change, including financial as well as technological resources to adapt their domestic emissions. With this, COP23’s emphasis being on vulnerable countries, such as developing Small Island states and the unique environmental challenges they encounter. The expectations going into these negotiations are on the adaptation fund, along with the $100 billion that needs to be collected by 2020 to finance it. One of the topics I personally will focus on is gender and climate change, but if there is any topic you wish I would cover in more detail, or have questions on the best way to follow a certain area – please send me an e-mail!




-This blog post was written by Alexandra Arntsen, Associate Lecturer in the Green Academy Team at NTU. 

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Bees in the City

Last week, on the 25th Aug, two honey bee hives have found a new home on the roof of Chaucer building in the heart of Nottingham. The aim is to add to the network of pollinators around the city at the time when their numbers are drastically falling. We are also planning flower beds for the roof to provide food for all local pollinators.

Placing the bees on Chaucer will give them good access to the Boots Library rooftop garden, the Arboretum, Dryden Corner and many other green spaces around the city – honey bees can easily fly for a couple of miles to find sources of food. As they collect food they will pollinate a wide variety of flowers, allowing the plants to set seed. It is estimated that 84% of EU crops and 80% of wildflowers rely on pollination so it is a hugely valuable process for people, plants, and wildlife. As the intensification of agriculture has made the countryside less hospitable, our urban environments have become increasingly important for insects. Our honeybees will be an important addition to Nottingham’s invertebrate community.

bees 1(Right: Chris Pryke-Hendy from NTU Environment team. Left: Nigel Smith NTU Resources Manager, setting up the bee hives on top of Chaucer)

As well as honeybees, there are a wide variety of native invertebrate pollinators in the UK, including bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, bugs, and beetles. In total, this accounts for at least 4000 wild species that pollinate our crops and wild flowers. However, more than 60% of pollinators are in decline in the UK so they need all the help they can get!

However, honeybees only make up a portion of insect pollination so we can all do our bit to help a variety of invertebrates. Some simple things to do are:

  • Plant pollinator friendly plants that will flower from spring to autumn
  • Let your garden get a little wild
  • Create a log pile
  • Make or buy homes for solitary bees
  • Avoid insecticides
  • If you don’t have a garden try a creating window box
  • If you see a tired looking bee on the ground, revive it with a spoon of sugar and water
  • Get involved in local projects such as community meadows and allotments
  • Contact the council if you think an area near you could benefit from less frequent maintenance
  • Record pollinators you see and submit your findings to national or local counts

bee 2

We will be placing cameras on the hives which will stream live to a dedicated web page so everyone can keep an eye them. A previous attempt at keeping hives on Newton building failed because it was too windy, but we are hoping these bees will find Chaucer to be a more suitable and sheltered place to live. Keep an eye out for bee updates on the website, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Further information:

Bug Life: pollination

Sustainable Pollination Services for UK Crops

What can you do to help bees at home?

RSPB: give nature a home in your garden

Grow a bee and butterfly garden



-This blog post was written by Kate Divey-Matthews the Environmental Engagement Assistant in the Environment Team at NTU. Many thanks from the Green Academy! 

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