The Covid-19 pandemic and the conclusions of the COP26 in Glasgow have drawn attention to societal inequalities and injustices, as well as the climate crisis and its consequences. While we really should not need a reason for wanting to make the planet a better place, it is certainly good news that we are now through debating climate change’s existence and are talking about how to act on solving it.

Agenda 2030 is a plan of action to tackle the largest problems threatening humanity by 2030. Its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets aim to achieve sustainable development in economic, social, and environmental terms. The UN designates each month a different Goal that we can focus on. This is the first blog piece of our series dedicated to the 17 SDGs. Each Goal page on has got a section on ‘Things to do’, and the list is always topped by supporting a relevant charity.

Find a Goal X charity you want to support. Any donation, big or small, can make a difference!

So, from now on, every month, we will introduce you to one or more of our partner organisations who are working towards the relevant SDG of the month.

This November – with COP running – the focus is all on #13 – Climate Action.

As global temperatures continue to rise despite various international agreements, time is running out on climate action. 2019 was the warmest year on record, seeing off the warmest ever decade preceding it. In 2019, the UN reported record Greenhouse Gas emissions in the atmosphere too, which though dropped during the pandemic, are set to increase further next year. While global warming-induced natural disasters are tearing communities apart, many still accuse leaders of only pledging empty promises instead of climate action.

We must keep the temperature rise under 1.5°C to prevent irreversible damage to our eco-system. To do so, emissions must be limited, adaption technology invested in, and the most vulnerable helped. The Glasgow Climate Pact coming out of COP26, while encompassing promising targets, is ‘not enough’, according to the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.

Negotiators marking the closing of the United Nations climate summit, COP26, which opened in Glasgow, Scotland, on 31 October.  The conference sought new global commitments to tackle climate change.
UN News/Laura Quiñones

There is nevertheless cause for positivity. Among climate finance continuously increasing and developing countries formulating and implementing tangible plans to further their economy sustainably, societal will is growing. So, let’s dive into what UCL is doing and how you can join in on climate action.

UCL and Climate Action

UCL’s many departments and world-leading research units are naturally deeply involved in research and action around climate change. Our epistemic community – both students and researchers – is hard at work to find solutions to global warming and sustainable development. A UCL Laws module tackles the challenges of equating the interests of international trade and environmental politics, while the Institute of Innovation & Public Purpose is working on tangible plans to transform the inner city of Manchester into a carbon neutral utopia 12 years ahead of the UK’s nationwide plan to achieve NetZero.

Then, you must have seen the Generation One posters scattered around campus and perhaps wondered what they were. It is an overarching alliance made-up of climate experts, student grassroot movements, and societies. The Sustainable UCL team also have some great opportunities for you to get involved in now so you can play your part in making a sustainable campus.. You can also check out the UCL Climate Hub that outlines the plans and steps already taken towards an emission-free campus and a zero-carbon university.

We have set ourselves an institutional challenge to be a net zero carbon university by 2030. To meet this commitment, we are radically rethinking how we operate; from how we travel to what products we buy and the food we serve on campus.

UCL Climate Hub

Support a Goal #13 charity

SDG #13 entails targets aligned with UCL’s values, as well as some that you can directly support.


While SDG #2 – Zero Hunger was October’s focus, sustainable development goals are intertwined. Climate change is affecting global agri-food systems, leaving many without sufficient nutrition across the globe. Floods, soil-degradation, and wildfires are all destroying crops and in turn, displace people unable to feed themselves. Simultaneously, many in our society buys too much and wates food.

Two of our partners, #Zero Food Waste and City Harvest are doing their part to combat hunger across London. They deliver surplus food to homeless shelters and refugee camps, thereby also working towards reducing poverty under SDG #1. Eating, and handling food in a sustainable manner is one of the most important personal-level actions we can take to fight climate change. We must let manufacturers know that there is demand for sustainable farming and food systems and in the meantime, we must make sure we sustainably use all we have!

UCL Zero Food Waste Volunteers collecting unsold food on campus to be given to homeless shelters.


As activists rightfully advocate, the climate crisis is a cross-generational one, meaning it will affect individuals not-yet-even-born. Therefore, it is ever more important to raise awareness and educate the younger generation so that they grow up into adults equipped with the knowledge to deal with the climate reality.

Our partner organisation, the Green Schools Project does exactly just that. As a Volunteer School Eco-Team Coordinator, you will be able to support Primary School teams to plan curricula, set up policy, and most importantly, to then execute these. You can have a direct impact on the reduction of carbon emissions of a school and on the next generation. You will empower the pupils to take leadership and make their community greener. One school at a time, London can become a more educated and energy efficient place within a single generation’s time!

UCL Volunteer educating young people on sustainability and the environment

Baby steps towards collective action

Inspired to support a Goal #13 charity? Reach out to any of our partners above or check out others under the ‘Environment’ filter on our volunteering directory - and if you think there's something missing, you can start your own volunteering project with our Student-Led Volunteering Programme. And while the personal vs structural debate persists, change is happening slowly but surely, and you should want to be part of it. This November, think about those affected by climate disasters and those displaced by extreme weather. Think about the next generation, our legacy, and our responsibility to them. All 193 member countries adopted Agenda 2030 – it is happening, and you can be part of it!

Written by Zsofia Bekker, Student Administrative Assistant