Loughborough commits to reverse biodiversity decline through worldwide Nature Positive Universities Alliance

Loughborough University is proud to be a founding member of the Nature Positive Universities Alliance, launched today (Thursday 8 December) at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15).

The Alliance is a global network of universities that have made an official pledge to work towards a Nature Positive goal in order to halt, prevent and reverse nature loss through addressing their own impacts and restoring ecosystems harmed by their activities.

Led by the University of Oxford and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the network is part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a movement to avert climate catastrophe and mass extinction.

It 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.

The Alliance launches with 117 universities from 48 countries, who have made individual pledges to start a journey towards becoming nature positive. University pledges include four key elements:

  1. Carrying out baseline assessments
  2. Setting specific, time limited and measurable targets for nature
  3. Taking bold action to reduce biodiversity impacts, protect and restore species and ecosystems, while influencing others to do the same
  4. Transparent annual reporting.

Speaking about Loughborough’s membership in the Nature Positive Universities Alliance, Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Jennings said: “We are proud to be one of the founding members of this hugely important network. As set out in our new strategy, Loughborough is committed to growing its research and innovation capacity in areas such as clean energy and the circular economy, to enable us to play a leading international role in responding to the climate emergency.

“Our campus has extensive green spaces including wildflower meadows and grasslands, fruit trees, conservation areas, watercourses, ponds, and woodlands which support biodiversity. They provide a habitat for badgers, bats, birds, hedgehogs and a variety of amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. Our membership to the new Alliance further underlines our commitment to protect these important green spaces.”

Professor Dan Parsons, Loughborough’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation added: “Sustainability should be at the heart of every university mission, and I am incredibly proud that Loughborough University has been able to make this commitment.  We have to work together in partnership across the world to address climate change and biodiversity loss and, through our education, research and knowledge exchange , Loughborough will be at the heart of addressing these Global challenges."

E.J. Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the 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.”

All the founding universities have pledged to assess their impacts to determine the most impactful initiatives to introduce, and to report on their progress. Examples of initiatives so far have included:

  • Establishment of nature-friendly infrastructure such as ecological corridors at University of Buenos Aires, Argentina and University of Campinas, Brazil and new green walls at the UK’s University of Lincoln to support pollinators
  • Contributing to afforestation and restoration through the development of institutional forests at Government Dungar College in Bikaner, India, and the University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • Completing university-wide surveys and audits of biodiversity at the University of Turku, Finland, and targets to increase biodiversity for all University of Melbourne campuses
  • Commitments to improve operational footprints, such as achieving Green Lab accreditation across all University of Exeter laboratories
  • Establishment of regional hubs of universities collaborating towards a nature positive goal in Algeria, Nigeria, India and Canada

People from a further 408 universities are already a part of the wider network, playing their part in bringing their universities closer to an official nature positive pledge, by developing research, lobbying their senior management and sharing case studies of their activities.

The network also includes a Student Ambassador Programme, which totals over 100 students from across 35 countries who are taking action toward nature positive awareness and approaches on their campuses. They are encouraging their universities to make an official pledge, through advocacy, organisation of nature-positive activities such as volunteering for nature restoration, establishment of sapling nurseries and using their studies to further advance their institutions’ sustainability.

Sam Barratt, Chief of Youth, Education and Advocacy at the UN Environment Programme, said: “Universities live at the heart of cities, at the crossroads of students’ futures and provide ground-breaking research that educates and informs society. We are delighted to see universities will be joining hands to reset our relationship with nature so that, through this Alliance, new action and possibilities are created. The virtue of higher education has come from a reappraisal of the present to then steer the world to a new future. We look forward to seeing how the Nature Positive Universities Alliance does just that for this agenda too.”

The Nature Positive Universities Alliance is calling on other Universities worldwide to join its collaborative network and to make an institutional Nature Positive pledge. Information on different ways for universities and their members to engage, or how to ask your university to consider making a pledge, can be found at www.naturepositiveuniversities.net.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 22/225

Accompanying imagery and videos are available here, along with a list of current pledged Universities:


The Nature Positive Universities Alliance will be launched at the CEPA Fair at COP15 in Montreal on 8th December 2022 at 8am EST / 1pm GMT. You can register to join the event virtually here

About Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2022 QS World University Rankings – the sixth year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2023 and 11th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

About Nature Positive Universities

Nature Positive Universities began in 2022 as a partnership between UNEP and the University of Oxford, established off the back of research by the Department of Biology into the University’s biodiversity footprint. The aim is to engage Universities in the prioritisation of nature restoration within the higher education sector, which will form a major contribution to the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and the Sustainable Development Goals. Universities have a substantial role to play in moving urgently from degrading nature to restoring it: our students are our future leaders, we create knowledge and nurture thinkers, and we directly impact the planet as land owners and consumers. Uniting universities for ecosystem restoration therefore has wider impact into our local communities and beyond.

More information can be found at www.naturepositiveuniversities.net

About the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

About the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, led by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and partners, covers terrestrial as well as coastal and marine ecosystems. A global call to action, it will draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to massively scale up restoration. Find out how you can contribute to the UN Decade. Follow #GenerationRestoration.