Western in top 10 of 1,705 universities in global sustainability rankings

Western ranked first in Canada on anti-poverty initiatives, second on decent work and economic growth and tied for second on industry, innovation and infrastructure. (Western Communications photo)

Western is a leader once again in a global ranking of universities working toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 targets to create a better and more sustainable world by 2030. 

The Times Higher Education 2023 Impact Rankings gave Western a near-perfect score of 95.8 out of 100 and ranked the university ninth in the world overall among more than 1,700 universities. The 2023 rankings analyzed the highest number of participating institutions since the program began five years ago. 

Western ranked first in Canada on anti-poverty initiatives, second on decent work and economic growth and tied for second on industry, innovation and infrastructure. The three high national rankings cement Western’s place among the world’s top universities.  

“It’s encouraging to see this latest recognition and validation of our sustainability work,” President Alan Shepard said. “It reflects the strong collective commitment Western community members have to ensuring our teaching, research and campus operations place a priority on addressing global issues.”  

Driving progress for a better world  

The strong showing on fighting poverty highlights Western’s work across campus and in the London area. The ranking is based on research related to SDG 1, “No Poverty,” as well as anti-poverty programs for students and staff, including financial aid, and work done in the community.  

There are broad efforts, like Western’s partnership with United Way Elgin Middlesex to raise money for local poverty-reduction initiatives, as well as specific programs, like a grant to help newly arrived international students with their transition costs. 

Western ranked second in the country for creating decent work and driving economic growth, based on its employment practices, staff expenditures, student work placements and research in the field. London’s second-largest employer, Western connects thousands of students with placements every year. More than 8,000 companies and organizations recruit at Western.  

The university community also creates life-changing products and patents through Western Research Parks and laboratories across campus, a factor that helped propel Western to the top university in the province and second in Canada for industry, innovation and infrastructure.  

Western researchers are delving deep into hundreds of issues that directly relate to the SDGs, from homelessness to clean energy to gender equality. Earlier this year, Ivey Business School was ranked third in the world for its research aligning with the UN targets by the Financial Times’ Responsible Business Education report.

Inspiring the next generation  

Western and its affiliates offer more than 2,700 courses that relate to the UN’s 17 global goals. 

A newly revamped course on climate change, now focused on taking action, recently won an award for its innovative approach. The Connecting for Climate Change Action course will be available on Coursera for free for anyone to enroll starting this fall.  

Student projects and accolades over the last year highlight the diverse expertise of Western’s community. Western’s focus on entrepreneurship and fostering global impact spurred a host of solutions developed by students through their coursework or campus-wide competitions.  

“The creativity shown by our university community is remarkable. The results of student-driven innovation are all around us, from protected animal habitats to flood mitigation to green transportation initiatives across campus. Western is solving local and global challenges with compassionate, human-centred research and a relentless drive to do better for the planet,” said Heather Hyde, Western’s director of sustainability.

Pushing for change on campus  

Western has committed to sustainability in many forms across its campus, including a pledge for university operations to be net-zero by 2050.   

Projects are underway to green residence dining halls by offering 40 per cent more plant-based food, reduce vehicle emissions by offering access to 80 electric vehicle chargers across campus and fortifying natural spaces like Medway Creek with an innovative bioengineering approach to mitigate flooding.  

Other recent successes:   

  • First-ever QS World Rankings in Sustainability placed Western third in Canada  
  • Thinking Globally, Acting Locally program created by Western graduate students to engage the campus community and drive change  
  • A biodiversity study, driven by public observations, revealed more than 1,200 species on campus  
  • Ivey research mapped out a path for corporate sustainability in Canada   


SDG 1, No Poverty: 1st in Canada, 3rd in the world  

SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth: 2nd in Canada, 24th in the world   

SDG 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: 3rd in Canada, 32nd in the world  

SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities: 5th in Canada, 17th in the world