Sustainability Steering Group

In 2021, Ulster University's Senior Leadership approved a request to establish a Sustainability Steering Group (SSG) in place of the Environmental Sustainability Steering Group (ESSG) which was established in 2013. The SSG is responsible for governance and oversight of the university’s sustainability, climate change, and social responsibility agendas and for developing and implementing a Strategic Sustainability Action Plan.

The revised group has a broader remit for cross-university sustainability and enhances Ulster's ability to meet strategic sustainability and social responsibility objectives, submit to consultations and engage both with internal and external stakeholders

Revising the sustainability governance structures within the university is the next step on Ulster's sustainability journey, to commit to making a meaningful contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals with a particular focus on taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts including reducing emissions to align with global commitments. Further, a key objective is to use sustainability as an opportunity to recruit and retain staff and students and to increase our influence locally/nationally and internationally.

The new sustainability governance group seeks to embed a culture of sustainability thinking and action across the institution with the aim of developing our leadership and governance; our teaching, learning, and research; our climate change activities: our inward and outward collaboration; and our people

Sustainability Steering Group (SSG)   Membership and Terms of Reference 

  • Context

    The SSG will be responsible for governing and oversight of the university’s sustainability, climate change, and social responsibility agendas and developing and implementing a Strategic Sustainability Action Plan. It will circulate the Annual Sustainability Report to SLT and Senate, and other fora as required. Further, it will submit action plans as necessary to SLT for approval prior to submission to the University Resources Committee.

  • Reporting
    • This advocacy group has a key responsibility to deliver the university’s sustainability and social responsibility agenda.
    • The Minutes of the meetings will be circulated to members for dissemination in their portfolios.
    • The Group will produce an Annual Report for approval bythe Senior Leadership Team and the University ResourcesCommittee and publication via the University website.
  • Membership


    • Dean of Sustainability and CSR and Sustainability Manager

    Senior Staff to represent the following areas (listed alphabetically):

    Academic Quality and Student Experience

    • Prof Odette Hutchinson

    Estates Services

    • Mr Stephen Doherty
    • Ms Marie-Louise Gaile

    Faculty Representatives (X4)

    • AHSS-  Mr Colm Creen
    • CEBE - Prof Neil Hewitt
    • LHS - Dr Colin Breen
    • UUBS - Prof Una Mc Mahon Beattie

    People and Culture

    • Mr Damian McAlister

    Regional Engagement

    • Prof Malachy O’Neill


    • Prof Liam Maguire

    Strategy and Finance

    • Ms Elaine Hartin

    Students’ Union (CEO and SU Officer)

    • Mr David Longstaff
    • Ms Oluwaseyi Kushimo

    In attendance: Executive Assistant: Sustainability & CSR

    On occasion, and where business-relevant, other stakeholders may be invited to attend.

  • Meeting Management
    • The Group will meet a minimum of 3 times per year.
    • Papers will be circulated a minimum of 5 working days before meetings.
    • Meetings will last approximately 1.5hrs.
    • Quorum – One half of the membership including both co-chairs.
  • Terms of Reference

    The group will:

    1. Co-ordinate and collaborate on sustainability, climate change, and social responsibility agendas across the university.
    2. Provide updates and make recommendations on sustainability, climate change action, and social responsibility to the Vice Chancellor and Senior Leadership Team including oversight of the university’s Environmental Management System (ISO14001).
    3. Develop, implement and review sustainability, climate change, and social responsibility related policies and action plans including risks and opportunities that supports the university’s corporate strategy.
    4. Publicise the university's performance and work with stakeholders and communities where appropriate to promote good practice in sustainability, climate change action, and social responsibility.
    5. Promote the engagement of the university’s curriculum and research with issues relating to sustainability, climate change, and social responsibility.
    6. Assist in setting objectives and targets to mitigate the university’s significant environmental impacts, including developing and monitoring climate plans, reduction targets and formulating strategies to minimise impacts.
    7. Assist the university in taking a leading role in higher education sustainability, climate change action, and social responsibility initiatives, using this role to lead and challenge the sector, as well as raising the university’s profile, locally, nationally, and internationally.
    8. Establish and oversee membership of any necessary sub-groups.

Policies and Performance

Ulster University aims to be sustainable in everything that we do, in order to achieve a sustainable environment we have implemented a variety of policies.

Environmental Management System

Our Environmental Management System (EMS) gives us a structured framework for managing and minimising the impact of our operations on the environment and incorporates our estates and procurement operations.

In May 2017, Ulster University achieved the new and more challenging ISO 14001:2015 standard.  The new ISO 14001 standard places greater emphasis on how organisations integrate environmental performance into governance, management and operational processes.

The internationally recognised standard is awarded by an independent external certification body and re-assessed each year.