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DMU praised for sustainability work at Expo 2020 global conference


One of the top officials at the United Nations (UN) has praised De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) for its work promoting sustainability across the higher education sector. 

Speaking at a conference hosted by DMU at Expo 2020, Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division at the UN in New York, said the university was active in promoting SDG work and had played a key role in supporting refugees and migrants. 

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This work, he said, had resulted in the university being chosen, for the second time, as a global hub for SDG 16, the promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions.  

He said: “Because of the work we did with De Montfort with refugees and migration as part of the Together campaign, DMU was a good candidate for being chosen as a hub for SDG 16. 

“When we evaluate, as we do every two years, the hub status, other universities which did not necessarily fill what was expected of them were substituted but De Montfort continues to be active in that area and we hope to see it continue to do so in the future.” 

The conference, hosted by DMU at the UK Pavilion, was a lively debate on how universities can play a significant role in achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - global targets which address issues like poverty, hunger, gender equality and social justice. 

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It is the latest activity DMU has put on at Expo 2020, at which it is a founding partner of the UK Pavilion, one of more than 230 national centres which fill the huge Expo site on the outskirts of Dubai city. 

Over the course of the day, visitors heard from a range of experts in sustainability from DMU and further afield. 

Dr Jessica Jin, senior lecturer in nutrition, gave a clear and stark picture of how imbalanced access to good food was across the country, highlighting how the poorest populations were often paying the most for nutritious food. 

Dr Karthikeyan Kandan, senior lecturer in engineering, also addressed the possibilities presented in reducing the massive amounts of waste plastic in the world, especially following the introduction of millions more tonnes in the pandemic, through test kits and PPE. 

He demonstrated his research in using waste plastic to create durable and light construction bricks, which could replace those made from stone. 

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There was also discussions with students at DMU’s new Dubai campus, who had made the trip from across the city to talk about a new ‘Green Wall’ they had created at the campus, in which they were growing herbs and plants, watered by newly-created automated machinery. 

While fashion experts from DMU – who back in October helped put on an exhibition about sustainable fashion – talked about how environmental issues and sustainable practices are worked into classroom teaching. 

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The conference was hosted by Professor Simon Oldroyd, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of Health and Life Science at DMU. 

He said: “We are here to talk about all things sustainable, in particular how DMU is contributing to embedding sustainable development into our teaching and research activities and how we can feed those findings into the UN’s SDG centre.” 

Professor Oldroyd continued: “The theme of sustainability cuts across all areas of DMU’s strategy, not just in teaching and research but in procurement, waste management, water management, construction and refurbishment. 

“We are setting an annual sustainability goal, scaling up carbon literacy training and creating a standalone SDG course at DMU. 

“It’s not easy to weave sustainability into teaching and research and not easy to audit it. But today we are hearing from a lot of people who are addressing this.” 

Posted on Tuesday 25th January 2022

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