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Introducing the 2023 winners: Green Impact Students' Unions Awards revealed

Franceska Fisher
August 31, 2023

Participation in Green Impact Students' Unions (GISU) showcases how students’ unions (SUs) are actively leading sustainability initiatives in 2023.  

This year, we saw 42 SUs engage in the programme, displaying remarkable dedication and enthusiasm for sustainability. Among these, 33 SUs underwent audits, and 20 SUs (57% of participating SUs) achieved the 'Excellent' rating. This is an impressive accomplishment, and we congratulate all those involved!

A growing number of SUs this year involved course and student representatives in their sustainability efforts. Other noteworthy campaigns addressed diverse issues, ranging from period poverty and eco-friendly menstruation products to period inclusivity.

SUs have effectively maintained their commitment to engaging students in sustainability initiatives. One noteworthy example is the Liverpool Guild of Students, who extended their support to other Student Unions with their educational programs. They've developed a customised program of activities and sessions aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This program was made available to 57 local primary schools and 30 secondary schools, and its success has prompted other students' unions to seek guidance for their own school programs. Their remarkable efforts this year have earned them an 'Excellent' rating.

The University of York Students' Union is championing the voices of its students by honouring their decision to transition to a plant-based campus, as voted on by the student body. This noteworthy decision reflects a growing awareness among students about the environmental impact of dietary choices and the desire to align the campus with sustainable practices. By embracing a plant-based approach, the university community is taking meaningful steps to reduce its carbon footprint and promote a more eco-friendly way of life.

Liberation work can also be well integrated into sustainability. Roehampton's 'Growhampton' recently visited Wolves Lane to support 'Black Rootz,' an empowering, Black-led farming project. This initiative highlights the need for inclusive spaces in agriculture, addressing the underrepresentation of Black and People of Color (BPOC) in the sector, where just 1% of UK farmers are non-white. Sharon Azams, the student welfare sabbatical officer, collaborated with Growhampton, demonstrating a collective commitment to promoting diversity in farming.

Highlighting the collaborative spirit, the virtual GISU Support and Networking Day, the GISU webinars led by SOS-UK throughout the year and the monthly sustainability forums allowed staff to come together and share good practice. The webinars delved into pertinent subjects such as decolonizing for change and climate justice, sustainable procurement, fossil-free careers, and shared best practices from diverse SUs.

Excitingly, we proudly present the recipients of the GISU Special Awards:

  • Highest Scoring: The Students' Union at UWE (492)

This union achieved the highest score due to their outstanding commitment to sustainability. Their sustainability committee has dedicated substantial time and effort to implement a wide range of sustainability initiatives to achieve their goals. For instance, they have established a dedicated Green Team and enlisted the help of a Student Sustainability Engagement Coordinator to organise and promote two enlightening Just Stop Oil Campaign Talks. By leveraging the power of social media, they successfully engaged students and facilitated learning on sustainability matters. Furthermore, as part of their cost-of-living campaign, they have made the Bike Loan scheme completely free for students, who only need to pay a fully refundable £40 per year as a hire fee before receiving their bicycles.

  • Highest Scoring from the Nations: Bangor’s Student Union/Undeb Bangor (426)

Undeb Bangor have demonstrated unwavering dedication through their flagship Cost of Living Campaign, which aims to provide creative solutions to alleviate financial burdens for students. These solutions include securing cheaper food options in university dining facilities, negotiating lower rents, and exploring the possibility of free laundry services. Undeb Bangor's commitment is underscored by their ambitious plans for the upcoming academic year, which further emphasize their focus on practical measures to reduce the cost of living for students and their dedication to improving student life.

  • Most Improved: Bedfordshire Students' Union (409)  

This year, Beds SU has really excelled in their efforts to enhance the quality of campus life. Their initiatives extend beyond environmental concerns and encompass social and economic dimensions of sustainability. The accomplishments of  Beds SU are indeed praiseworthy and a source of pride for the institution.

A heartfelt congratulations to all participating SUs in this year's GISU, collectively achieving remarkable sustainability milestones. For a comprehensive overview of our SU offerings, please refer here. To sign up for the 2023-24 programme, please visit our website.

Full list of GISU awards 2022-23:

Aberdeen University Students' Association – Excellent

Aberystwyth Students' Union – Excellent

Bath Spa Students' Union - Very Good

Beds Students' Union – Excellent

Birmingham City University Students' Union – Good

Bucks Students' Union – Excellent

Glasgow Caledonian University Students' Union – Excellent

Leeds Arts Union – Excellent

Leeds Trinity Students' Union – Very Good

Leeds University Union – Excellent

Liverpool Guild of Students – Excellent

Loughborough Students' Union – Good

Nottingham Trent Students' Union – Excellent

Oxford Students' Union – Excellent

Queen Mary University of London Students' Union – Very Good

Roehampton Students' Union – Excellent

Staffordshire University Students' Union – Excellent

Stirling Students' Union - Excellent

Students' Union UCL - Excellent

Swansea University Students' Union – Excellent

The Students' Union at UWE – Excellent

The SU, University of Bath – Very Good

The Union, Manchester Met – Working Towards

Undeb Bangor, Bangor Students' Union – Excellent

University of Birmingham Guild of Students – Excellent

University of Exeter Students' Guild – Good

University of Lincoln Students' Union – Very Good

University of Wales Trinity Saint David Students' Union - Good

University of West London Students' Union – Good

University of York Students' Union – Excellent

Warwick Students' Union – Working Towards

Worcester Students' Union – Very Good

Wrexham Glyndwr Students' Union – Excellent