The University's research is world-leading. It goes on to count in policy debates, inform business, be part of the public discourse, and therefore have a real impact on society. We're finding ways to make it more sustainable.

Illustration of measuring, researching and examining climate and nature

Why is research important?

At the University of Edinburgh, we’ve had an extraordinary influence on the world, and on individual lives, for more than 400 years. Each year we take on tomorrow’s greatest challenges; applying new research, in new ways, to solve new problems. This innovation and entrepreneurism sets the agenda for our future society.

Examples of research include:

  • modelling that helps us to understand the causes and the pace of the climate crisis
  • renewable energy technologies and carbon capture
  • the human and behavioural dimensions of the nature and climate crisis, and societal challenges
  • regulatory processes at the national and international levels

Research focus (Strategy 2030)

We will strive to make our research even more interdisciplinary and international, to address social and global challenges including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

We will create initiatives in a variety of areas including justice, data science, environmental sustainability, mental health and wellbeing, ageing and dementia, human rights, and global governance, driven by new collaborative research communities. Working in open facilities, researchers, students, the public sector and companies will ‘breathe the same air’ and solve major challenges side by side.

Strategy 2030

Explore our research

Find examples of research focused on sustainability, climate action and the SDGs.

Research and institutes

The Edinburgh Earth Initiative is accelerating the University of Edinburgh’s response to the climate crisis. Working with our academics, students, staff, and partners, the initiative helps ensure the University of Edinburgh is at the leading edge of climate research, teaching, innovation and action.

The University of Edinburgh is ranked globally for its excellence in research, teaching and innovation. Our academics are at the forefront of applying cutting edge research to help communities adapt and mitigate the effects of the climate emergency.

The University of Edinburgh hosts over 35 distinct research centres, institutes, networks and groups that are actively making an impact through climate, environment, biodiversity, sustainability related research across all disciplines.

Edinburgh Earth Initiative

Research impact case studies

How the University community is making its mark upon the world through its research, innovation, ideas and actions.

Edinburgh Impact

Futureproofing societies and the planet

Edinburgh Innovations case studies

Making research more sustainable

As well as its positive handprint, research also leaves behind a negative footprint, often requiring energy-intensive equipment and travelling, which contributes significantly to the University’s environmental impact.

The University is working to embed sustainability both in practice and in research outputs. In practice, this includes prioritising sustainable academic travel and making sure labs are kitted out with the most resource-efficient equipment.

Including sustainability in research grant applications

Advice for embedding sustainability in your research grant applications, including UK Research and Innovation and Wellcome Trust.

Research grant applications