A student cycling in central of Gothenburg.
Our goal is that by 2024, the University of Gothenburg has strengthened its position as a leading university in sustainable development.
Photo: Alana Da Silva

Sustainability results 2022

Sustainable development is a watchword for all activities and operations at the University of Gothenburg. Our work with sustainability in education and research has been internationally recognised, and we want to make significant contributions to the global goals of Agenda 2030. We work systematically and follow up on our sustainability efforts. Our goal is to improve the University of Gothenburg’s position as a leading university in sustainable development by 2024.

Methodological work for sustainable development

The University of Gothenburg is certified according to ISO 14001, the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems, and has been registered according to EMAS, the European Union Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. This means that the University is constantly striving to improve operations so it can reduce negative environmental impact and to expand our positive impact on sustainable development through education, research and collaboration.

Sustainable development has a prominent place in the University’s vision. Sustainable development is one of six focus areas aimed at strengthening the University of Gothenburg as a leading university in sustainable development. This ambition takes concrete form in strategies and operational plans at both the university-wide and faculty levels. Sustainable development is followed up qualitatively in the faculties’ operational dialogues and annual follow-up reports and quantitatively through indicators within the framework of the environmental management system and the climate framework. University Management receives a comprehensive overview of work with the environmental management system twice a year.

Reporting of the University’s sustainability efforts

The sustainability report is an integral part of the 2022 University of Gothenburg Annual Report. The sustainability report meets the requirements for EMAS-approved environmental reporting. The University of Gothenburg reports the results of internal environmental management to the Ministry of Education and Research and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the Ordinance (2009:907) on Environmental Management in Public Authorities and the Ordinance (2014:480) on the Purchasing of Energy-Efficient Goods, Services and Buildings by Public Authorities. The sustainability report is issued annually, and the results are presented in a consistent way from year to year to the extent possible. Its own statistics and statistics from suppliers and contractors hired by the University generate the measurement data.

The most recent report were published in February 2023. This page provides a selection of the results.

A climate-neutral organisation in 2045

The University of Gothenburg as an organisation has a major environmental impact, so we have a great responsibility to develop internal methods for achieving sustainable development. We aim to reduce our carbon emissions in two steps. By 2023 we will have reduced our emissions of CO2 by 25 per cent, compared with 2019. By 2029 emissions will have declined by one-half. Our long-term goal is to be climate neutral by 2045, which is in line with Sweden’s overall objective adopted by the Swedish Parliament.

To measure our carbon emissions, we have developed a digital tool, the Carbon Intelligence System, which displays carbon emissions per organisational unit. The tool allows university managers to follow and analyse the carbon emissions of their activities and operations. In 2022 the University released 36.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide, a decrease of eight per cent from 2019.

Emissions of carbon dioxide from official travel amounted to 4,490 tonnes in 2022, a 533 per cent increase compared with 2021. The end of pandemic restrictions accounts for this increase. Compared with 2019, CO2 emissions for official travel decreased by 43 per cent.

Online meetings declined by more than 50 per cent between 2021 and 2022 because teaching and other activities are back on campus at University premises after being conducted essentially fully online in 2020–2021. On the other hand, the use of video conferencing systems in lecture rooms and conference rooms has increased tenfold, demonstrating that meetings and teaching in hybrid form have become a more common feature of our work.

What we did in 2022

In 2022 the University of Gothenburg introduced a carbon budget. The budget aims to reduce the climate impact of the University.

The University of Gothenburg has an internal cost of climate compensation related to air travel. In 2022 we decided to increase climate compensation from SEK 118 to SEK 400 per single trip. The cost go to an internal climate fund that will implement sustainable development measures. This includes an inventory of existing bicycle parking spaces that will be followed up with a pilot initiative involving lockable bicycle garages at one or more University locations.

There is justification to point to behavioural changes within the organisation in terms of travel and online meetings, but it can also be a challange to achieve lasting behaviour changes over time.


The University of Gothenburg has had a system for sustainable labelling of courses and programmes for many years. The labelling is based on criteria reflecting the multidimensional concept of sustainable development. Twenty per cent of courses and nearly twenty-five per cent of programmes at the University of Gothenburg are sustainably labelled.

What we did in 2022

The University has the mission of educating for a sustainable future, and today’s students expect the sustainability perspective to be adequately highlighted in courses and programmes. The sustainable labelling of courses and programmes indicates how educational content responds to global goals. During the year, we developed the sustainability labelling of our courses and programmes. The global sustainability goals are also evident in courses and programmes.

The Institute of Health and Care Sciences at Sahlgrenska Academy has developed an internal tool to monitor over time how sustainable development has been integrated into the institute’s various courses, such as in learning objectives, content examinations and literature. To share knowledge about the tool internally and how it is used, an instructional film has been produced.

This year the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology have also arranged the Act Sustainable Week. Act Sustainable includes workshops, art installations and lectures providing inspiration, knowledge and new perspectives on sustainable development for students, researchers, teachers and staff at both universities. This year’s theme was Democracy in a Changing Climate.

During the Act Sustainable Week, the Gothenburg University Thesis Award (GUSTA) was presented for the fourth year to outstanding student compositions in the field of sustainable development. The five prize-winners this year wrote essays covering subject areas from design to equality in healthcare.

Research and collobration

The University of Gothenburg seeks to strengthen its role as a leading university in sustainable development. There is a need for increased competence and insight into how to transition to a sustainable society, both nationally and globally. The University’s research has a clear mission to promote this transition through science-based knowledge. In 2022, 694 scholarly publications were published addressing issues involving sustainable development.

What we did in 2022

The University of Gothenburg participates in the International Association of Universities (IAU), a platform for collaboration on research and education within sustainable development. In the network, we have led the way in the UN Global Sustainability Goals on Decent Working Conditions and Economic Growth (SDG 8). Through the initiative, we want to mobilise academic work and policy interaction to ensure that researchers, practitioners and decision-makers come together and that research findings are considered when making decisions.

A pilot project with marine allotments has been underway at the Tjarnö marine laboratory for a number of years. A marine allotments is a site for small-scale cultivation of organisms, such as algae and mussels and can also be used to store food in the sea. In 2022 establishment of a marine lots in central Gothenburg was made possible through funding by Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency. The project, called the Conversion Hotel’s marine allotment, is also part of Gothenburg’s 400th anniversary and the Prototype Gothenburg exhibition.

In 2022 the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers jointly decided to develop an arena for sustainable development in Western Sweden. The arena is based on a collaboration with University West. The new organisation aims to facilitate collaboration and create partnerships among academia and other societal organisations to develop, share and utilise knowledge about how the community can strengthen its capacity and ability to transition to a sustainable society. The decision was based on a review by the Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development (GMV).

Procurement and purchasing

The University’s procurement and purchasing imposes sustainability requirements on products and services. It also requires suppliers to have knowledge about sustainability. To ensure that suppliers can conform with our requirements, university procurement and purchasing coordinators are trained in sustainable development.

What we did in 2022

In 2022 sustainability requirements were established in 35 out of 46 procurement items, and in 7 out of 12 priority product areas the proportion of products with sustainability requirements has increased or is at the same level compared with 2021.

Energy and buildings

In 2022 the University’s consumption of electricity and heat amounted to 200 kilowatt-hours per square metre, an increase of 12 per cent compared with 2021. The fact that for most of 2021 the University conducted teaching remotely, with a gradual reversion to campus teaching, accounts for the increase. Consumption of electricity and heat in 2022 remained at the same level as in 2019, before the pandemic.

What we did in 2022

The energy situation in Sweden and Europe is severely strained. In autumn of 2022, the University of Gothenburg, as one of 200 government agencies, was tasked with implementing energy-saving measures.

A working group is working with university organisations and the University’s largest property owners to develop and explore possible actions. In addition to information initiatives, property rounds were also made to identify possible energy efficiency improvements. One measure that has produced results is optimising of operating times for ventilation in the premises when possible. The measure can provide a saving of 25,000 kilowatt-hours per month.

Waste and recycling

In 2022 the University’s waste totalled 931 tonnes, an increase of 38 per cent compared with 2021. The proportion of waste reused, recycled or composted is 37 per cent, a decline since 2021. We believe these increases and decreases have to do with the pandemic and the reduced use of University premises during the pandemic due to restrictions.

What we did in 2022

During the year, a pilot project started sorting out paper towels in the lavatories at two of the University’s addresses. Instead of being discarded as residual waste and going to incineration, the supplier takes back the paper towels and recycles them into new tissue paper. Paper towels make up roughly 70 per cent of the residual waste in the pilot addresses. Depending on the results from the evaluation of the project, the sorting will be expanded to more addresses.