Sustainability & Research

At the University, research into subjects with a sustainability component is carried out in many different ways. Below you will find a selection of highlights from 2018.

Two million euros for research into achieving Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs)

Professor and member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, Detlef van Vuuren, is a climate researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Professor by Special Appointment of Integrated Assessment of Global Environmental Change at Utrecht University. In 2018 he was granted 2 million from the European Research Council (an ERC grant) to investigate what specific action we need to take to actually achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. In many cases, specific plans for achieving those goals are yet to be drawn up.

First winner of the Agnites Vrolik Award
In 2018, the Agnites Vrolik Award (€25,000) was awarded for the very first time. The prize is presented to a talented scientist from Utrecht University who contributes to tackling current social issues. This year, Daphina Misiedjan won the award with her research on the importance of legal research in the sustainable management of water.

Atlas of nature solutions in the city
Green roofs that combat heat stress and urban lagoons which store water
. Despite the fact that these kinds of nature-based solutions  can contribute towards tackling sustainability challenges in the city, they are seldom used.

In 2016, Harriet Bulkeley, Professor of Climate Governance, in collaboration with an international team of universities and cities, launched a European research project to map nature-based solutions, identify which approaches work and use them to inform policy and practice. In 2018 she launched the Urban Nature Atlas: ‘A database of nature-based solutions across 100 European cities.’

Trans-disciplinary approach to natural disasters
The Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges highlights global challenges based on the relationship between human rights, conflict & security, sustainability and equality. In 2018, it supported three specific sustainability projects at Utrecht University: (1) Planetary Justice Task Force of the Earth Systems Governance (2) Sustainability and equity for marine global commons and (3) Institutions, Natural Hazards and the Local Economy (INHaLE).

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in industry
If Europe wants to meet its long-term climate targets, heavy industries will have to reduce their CO2  emissions. While a lot of research is being done in the field of mobility and in the energy sector, industries such as meat, dairy, paper, plastic and steel have so far often been left out of the equation.
As part of the Reinvent project launched in 2018, Professor of Energy, Raw Materials and Technological Change Ernst Worrell is investigating value chains in these sectors to see exactly where CO2 is released and where there are opportunities to transition to alternatives.

Nieboer thesis award for anthropological research
Michelle Geraerts received the Nieboer thesis award for best Master’s thesis in 2018. The Nieboer Award is presented annually by the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University. The title of her thesis is: ‘Speculative new ecologies: An exploration of artistic approaches to ecology-technology entanglements in the Anthropocene.’

named professors 2018