UK (University of Derby) University of Derby commits to reverse biodiversity decline through membership of new global network

The University of Derby has become part of Nature Positive Universities Alliance, a new global network of 111 universities that have made an official pledge to work towards a global Nature Positive goal in order to halt, prevent and reverse nature loss through addressing their own impacts and restoring ecosystems harmed by their activities.Announced today (8 December 2022) by the University of Oxford and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15), the initiative is set to drive the world’s higher education sector towards a nature positive future as part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.As part of its pledge, the University of Derby has committed to start a nature positive journey and has already begun assessing its environmental impact in order to make tailored actions to improve its ecological footprint on our planet.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said:

“As a Civic University we have a key role to play in making a positive impact on the local, national and global environment, and a responsibility to do all we can to help tackle the crisis that is facing our planet.

“By making this pledge we are reinforcing our commitment to assessing and addressing the impact our University has on the environment and working towards mitigating this through a number of existing and new initiatives.

“We are delighted to be one of the founding universities from across the globe pledging to be nature positive.”

Examples of nature positive projects already underway at Derby include:

  • The creation of biodiversity stripes that show the variety and abundance of nature over time and are designed to raise awareness of the loss of wildlife. These stripes, created by Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness at Derby, were inspired by the climate stripes created by Professor Ed Hawkins at the University of Reading in 2018 to show the heating of the planet over 200 years
  • DUST – Derby’s Urban Sustainable Transition project aims to reimagine Derby for a sustainable future, creating an augmented reality representation of the city, capitalising on its blueways and greenways to increase the vibrancy and prosperity of Derby and show what could be possible if an area is reimagined to place sustainability and active transport central to city developments
  • Researchers are leading a major new international effort to ensure the long-term future of the world’s lagoons and the communities that depend on them. The Resilient Lagoon Network (RLN) aims to understand and address a complex set of interconnected problems central to the sustainability of ecosystems, economies and everyday lives
  • ‘Pathways to Nature Connectedness’ – award-winning research that has transformed the way people interact with nature to improve wellbeing and promote pro-nature behaviour. This behaviour change framework for improving the human-nature relationship has been adopted by The National Trust, Wildlife Trust, and many others. The pathways inform the Connecting People with Nature stream of the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund and the Green Influencers scheme
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the University and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust will combine the skills and know-how needed to support the Trust’s ambitions to be at the forefront of ecosystem services provision. The partnership will provide the academic expertise that the Trust needs to grow by developing an innovative and holistic business model that can leverage its conservation expertise and enable it to operate commercially, while remaining true to its charitable status

The Nature Positive Universities Alliance brings higher education institutions together to use their unique power and influence as drivers of positive change. Universities already carry out environmental and conservation research to help inform government and company action, but by publicly tackling their own supply chains and operational impacts on nature, universities can help guide the wider community on a path to address the twin climate and ecological crises.

EJ Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the Department of Biology, University of Oxford, and co-founder of the Nature Positive Universities Alliance, said:

“As universities, we occupy a unique position in educating future leaders, researching solutions to environmental challenges, and influencing our communities and governments. By addressing our own institutions’ environmental impacts, we can be powerful thought leaders while also directly contributing to restoring nature.”

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