For health, equality and sustainability

Words by Vicky Taylor-Plane

As a leading international research university, The University of Manchester is committed to playing a collaborative role in tackling global challenges and helping create a greener, fairer and healthier world.

We are the world’s number one university in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for action taken towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The 17 Goals are the world’s call to action on the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing humanity and the natural world.

The University will also soon be celebrating two years of being a member of the UN Academic Impact initiative, a global network of research institutions from across more than 147 countries.

Here are just three examples of how we’re working together to support the SDGs for health, equality and sustainability.

A greener planet

The COP26 international climate change conference this November will focus on the commitments and progress made by nations across the world. Many policies and actions needed to achieve that change have to be enacted at a local level.

Researchers from Tyndall Manchester, part of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, have worked on a local carbon budget tool that helps the UK’s regions navigate the complexities of interpreting global targets. This helps them understand the importance of immediate and ongoing action to significantly reduce our carbon emissions year on year.

The tool has been used by more than 250 local authorities to support development of their carbon emission targets and associated policies and projects. It’s also one of three accredited for use by cities participating in the UN Race to Zero initiative.

A fairer world

Today’s consumer society relies on a multitude of global value chains, linking firms of all sizes across countries, cultures and political and trade boundaries.

Research by Professor Stephanie Barrientos on gender equality has changed the way a number of large companies deal with issues faced by female workers in the Global South. Using extensive research across agriculture and clothing sectors in Africa, Asia and Latin America, she was able to demonstrate the benefits of gender equality on business performance and and the wellbeing of female workers.

Her research has resulted in improved conditions, economic empowerment, enhanced worker rights and better prospects for millions of women worldwide.

A healthier population

From COVID-19 to cancer, Manchester’s research in health and medicine spans the many ways in which we can improve health and wellbeing for people across the planet.

Achieving more accurate and faster diagnosis, and better therapy, has helped improve health outcomes globally. One example is Manchester’s transformational research on fungal infections, which cause serious suffering in more than 300 million people worldwide and probably two million deaths annually.

The airborne fungus Aspergillus is responsible for life-threatening aspergillosis and chronic pulmonary aspergillosis, the latter of which has a five-year survival rate of less than 50%.

Our research has improved diagnostics and led to earlier effective treatment and better management of the illness. Research led by Professor David Denning has included antifungal drug developments and novel diagnostics, and has improved patient survival and quality of life.

Find out more about how Manchester’s research is delivering all 17 SDGs and making a positive impact across the globe.

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