21.04.21: Irish Universities among “world’s best for sustainability” in THE Impact Rankings 2021

Irish universities are among the “world’s best for sustainability” in the THE Impact Rankings 2021, with UCC achieving an overall top 10 placement in the world’s best list.

The THE Impact Rankings assess the contributions made by universities worldwide to solving some of the greatest challenges of our time through progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In total, 1,240 universities from 98 countries and regions have participated this year across the 17 SDGs.

As well as University College Cork securing a top 10 spot in the overall table, the fundamental importance of Irish universities to achieving a more sustainable world through their work on addressing the UN SDGs is made clear across the rankings.

Highlights include:

  • University College Cork finishing in world’s top three for SDG12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG15 (Life on Land)
  • UL, UCC and UCD in world’s top 20 for SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).
  • Across the 18 rankings a total of four Irish universities achieved eight top 10 positions
  • Irish universities perform exceptionally well under Sustainable Cities & Communities (SDG 11) and under Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16) with 5 Irish universities ranked in the top 100 world-wide
  • Strong national performance is also seen under Gender Equality; Decent Work & Economic Growth; Reduced Inequalities; and Partnerships for the goals with 4 Irish universities ranked in the top 100 world-wide

Minister Harris said “This is fantastic news, and while the exceptional standard of the Irish higher education system is no surprise to me, I am delighted to see our universities ranked so highly internationally for their work in creating a sustainable future.  Sustainability is a significant economic and social challenge, and I look forward to working with the university sector and our partners in research and innovation to tackle it head-on.

We know we have the talent, and now, with my Department’s full support, we can work across our sectors and outside our boxes to make ideas reality.”

Sustainability is a key priority for the 7 university member of the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and the IUA is delighted to partner with the Environmental Protection Agency on the “Campus Living Labs” Sustainability Project as part of their National Waste Prevention Programme. The 2-year project which started in April aims to deliver evidence to inform campus sustainability programmes and foster and advance activities that will introduce systemic change in preventing waste and increasing recycling on campus. The promotion of sustainability in production and consumption can contribute significantly to waste prevention.

Highest World Ranking of IUA Universities in each Sustainable Development Goal Category:

SDG IUA University Highest World Ranking
Overall University College Cork 8
SDG 1 – No Poverty Dublin City University 23
SDG 2 – Zero Hunger University College Cork 12
SDG 3 – Good health and wellbeing Trinity College Dublin 43
SDG 4 – Quality Education Maynooth University & Dublin City University 101-200
SDG 5 – Gender Equality Trinity College Dublin 6
SDG 6 – Clean Water & Sanitation University College Cork 6
SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy NUI Galway 14
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth University College Dublin 41
SDG 9 – Industry, Innovations and Infrastructure University College Dublin 32
SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities Maynooth University 32
SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities University of Limerick 10
SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production University College Cork 3
SDG 13 – Climate Action Trinity College Dublin 63
SDG 14 – Life Below Water University College Cork 4
SDG 15 – Life on Land University College Cork 3
SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions University College Cork 25
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals University College Cork 17


Find out more about the Impact Rankings:


For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association

Lia.osullivan@iua.ie 085 7141414