Kent Stars: Climate Champions

Sustainability Working Group sat on bench smiling with their Climate Action Award

This month’s Kent Stars are the Sustainability Working Group (SWG), who were recently awarded the Climate Action Award for their sustainability initiatives. These include climate café events, the plant-based loyalty card on campus and the Kent BioBlitz event. Hear from the Sustainability Working Group: 

“We are the Sustainability Working Group. We are a group working with staff and students across the university to make the University of Kent more sustainable through several projects and initiatives across 5 subgroups. We were formed in 2019, and our first achievement was to lead the School of Anthropology and Conservation to become the first academic school to declare a climate and ecological emergency! We have members from all over the university. Still, most subgroup leads come from the School of Anthropology and Conservation, with a mixture of students from Environmental Social Sciences, Wildlife Conservation and Human Geography.”   

Tell us about winning the Canterbury Climate Action Award.

“The Canterbury Climate Action Award is awarded to exceptional climate action initiatives in Canterbury, so winning in our category was an amazing recognition of all the work the SWG has done and continues to do. The reason for winning was due to the successful projects that have been initiated by SWG, notably the climate cafes, plant-based loyalty cards, and the University of Kent BioBlitz event Curious to see what BioBlitz is all about? Check out this video from our 2023 event.

Plant based loyalty cards

Our group entered the further/higher education category, and we were up against some amazing projects, so it was an honour to be chosen for the award. Chancellor Mel Dawkins presented the award to our student lead, Beccy, at the 2023 award ceremony as part of the Climate Action Festival. The festival and the awards ceremony are hosted by the Canterbury Climate Action Partnership (CCAP), a community interest company working closely with Canterbury councils and councillors from the different political parties to bring together like-minded interest groups to mobilise action towards a more sustainable future in Canterbury.  

The activities throughout the festival included family activities to promote sustainability, sustainable stalls, discussion roundtables with sustainability experts and inspirational talks. The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover closed the ceremony with an incredibly motivating speech. The whole event was an amazing opportunity to network and hear about the incredible work being done for climate action in Canterbury. The CCAP even expressed interest in attending one of our Climate Cafes as they would like to take and develop this initiative to host them for Canterbury residents! 

Sustainability Working Group receiving their Climate Action Award

Winning the award has been very motivational for the group. Some of the projects we work on can be tough to implement within such a large establishment like a university, which can sometimes be disheartening. However, recognising our work shows that we are working towards a sustainable future and will continue motivating us!” 

What advice would you give to other students?  

“There is so much support and passion out there for sustainable initiatives, so if you want to implement something within your school or want to join the fight for a more sustainable university, then you can make a difference by getting the ball rolling. If you need support, please reach out to us on Instagram, and we may be able to help with advice or contacts!  

It can be a scary time, with high experiences of anxiety about the state of the environment. Just know that you are not alone in this feeling – in fact we host climate cafes specifically to bring people together so we can support each other through these complex emotions. We can’t single-handedly solve the world’s sustainability problems, but we certainly can have an impact.” 

Sustainability Working Group stood smiling with their Climate Action Award

What are your plans for the next year?  

“We have excitingly just become a society! Therefore, our main plans for the next year are to establish the society, gain members and host fun, sustainability-based socials for the rest of the academic year!  

Alongside this, we continue to progress in the projects from the subgroups. For example, our greenspaces subgroup will map the habitats on campus for the Sustainability team to use as their Biodiversity Action Plan strategy for 2025. Our wellbeing subgroup continues its monthly climate cafes where students can come together in a safe space to talk about feelings of eco-anxiety. We hope to see some of you as members soon!” 

Do you know an inspirational student or student group? Let us know. 

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign. 


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