University shortlisted for sustainability research initiatives

University shortlisted for sustainability research initiatives

Two transformative initiatives from the University of Aberdeen have been shortlisted for a prestigious sustainability award.

Research into Scotland’s hemp industry and the international readymade garment industry have both been named finalists in the Green Gown Awards 2023, along with PGT Raghu Mahadevappa who has been shortlisted as a Sustainability Champion in the student category. 

Held in association with UKRI, the Awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges around the world.

The research projects are finalists in the Research with Impact – Institution category, which recognises the societal impact of research and development as a driver of sustainability, as well as implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Regenerating Scotland’s Hemp Industry for Health, Climate and a Green Economy has underpinned a resurgence in the Scottish hemp sector. The researchers found hemp seed-based foods (oil and flour) to have an excellent nutritional profile with several health-supporting benefits. Taking the findings forward, the team were pivotal in creating a sector-wide association, to align and galvanise all aspects of the supply chain for a thriving hemp industry.

Hemp grows well in Scotland while offsetting greenhouse gases and maximising biodiversity and the team have explored the potential of markets for Scottish hemp making clear recommendations to Scottish government. The broad range of products offered from all parts of the plant—healthy food, materials, biofuel—supports a zero-waste circular green economy. By working directly with producers and processors, the team are regenerating the Scottish hemp industry as a tangible solution to directly address challenges in health, climate and economy.

Professor Wendy Russell from the University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute said:  “We are delighted to have been named finalists at this year’s Green Gown awards. Our Scottish Government-funded research has demonstrated that hemp is a source of healthy nutrients, as well as having several environmental benefits. This inspired farmers in the Scottish Hemp Growers Group to grow hemp and delivered the first commercial oil production in Scotland. We are now working to build the processing sector to develop new markets for a circular green economy.” 

Making Ends Meet – Transforming the Readymade Garment Industry by Amplifying the Voices of Those Affected highlights the conditions faced by workers in Bangladesh’s clothes factories. Together with academic, NGO and policy partners, the team are creating the groundwork for policy change and raising awareness to ensure workers are empowered to demand that sufficient protections are in place to tackle abusive purchasing practices.

Research lead Professor Muhammad Azizul Islam, Chair in Accountancy and Professor in Sustainability Accounting and Transparency at the Business School, said: “The readymade garment industry relies on low-cost labour of the global south, in order to fulfil the clothing retail demands of the global north. I am pleased that the team’s valuable work to raise awareness of the working conditions and campaign for an independent ‘fashion watchdog’  for the UK Government to curb unethical practices in the global garment trade, has been recognised by the judges.”

Alison Robinson, Deputy Executive Chair and Director of Corporate Affairs for the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UKRI, said: “With another exceptional set of finalists announced I feel both humbled and proud to represent UKRI’s involvement in these awards. While the challenge ahead of us is daunting the innovation, passion and belief across the research and innovation sector is inspiring and I look forward to following the progress of these projects as they help us reach our net zero target.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in November.

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