KTH ranked near top in impact on sustainability

KTH was ranked seventh worldwide in impact with regard to the UN's sustainable development goals. (Photo: David Callahan)
Published Apr 03, 2019

KTH ranks as one of the world’s 10 leading universities in scores based on the UN’s global sustainability goals. Within two of the goals KTH ranks second and third, respectively.

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings today published its University Impact Rankings, naming KTH seventh among 500 universities worldwide. The rankings aim to provide a picture of an institution’s impact on society through measuring how they live up to the goals for sustainable development adopted by the United Nations in 2015 – thus, 11 of the 17 UN goals are included as individual subdivisions in the ranking.

“It’s very exciting. As a technical university we want our work with society to have an impact, and that the results should be useful. Here is proof of our success,” says Göran Finnveden, vice president of sustainable development at KTH.

Work conditions and climate action
KTH’s highest rankings in the individual goals were for work conditions (second place), innovation ( third place) and climate action (ninth place).

"It is brilliant and shows that we are on the right path in many areas,” Finnveden says. “This ranking is exciting because it combines traditional academic data, such as publications, with information on how we manage our own business.”

THE’s rankings are based on information submitted by the universities, which in some way affect the eleven sustainability goals. Information on the number of students in different subject areas, degrees, economics and number of spin-off companies are also included in the documentation. Bibliometric indicators as well as reputation measurement are also used.

Particular focus is placed on cooperation between the university and the public sector, such as government and authorities, and how much information about the university’s sustainability work is openly available.

Finnveden says the KTH ranking position reflects both specific efforts that the university makes in certain areas, as well as collecting and managing the relevant data.

“In several of the areas where we are ranked highest, we have had long-term investments and this has an effect,” he says.

Many spinn-off companies
For Lisa Ericsson, head of KTH Innovation, sustainable development is a priority in working to support spin-off companies with origins at KTH. “It’s great that the work has gotten results in global competition with other institutions,” she says.

"We will intensify the work even more with, among other things, a large project that aims to increase the number of sustainability ideas from KTH that reach the market,” Ericsson says. “We see that there is a strong interest and heightened awareness concerning sustainability among those who come to KTH Innovation with their ideas. That is, both among students and from within our network of investors and entrepreneurs.”

The explanation for KTH's top place in the world ranking is several years of documented work on sustainability issues, says Per-Anders Östling, KTH's ranking expert:

“This, combined with the fact that KTH has long been prominent in technology and innovation work, has greatly contributed to the positive result,” he says.

How KTH ranked

There are 17 UN SDGs and THE evaluated university performance on 11 of them in this edition of the ranking. Any university that provides data on SDG 17 and at least three other SDGs is included in the overall ranking.

Here is how KTH ranked:

SDG 4 – Quality education (37th)
SDG 5 – Gender equality (101st – 200th)
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth (2nd)
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation, and infrastructure (3rd)
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities (28th)
SDG 13 – Climate action (9th)
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals (14th)

Christer Gummeson

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Last changed: Apr 03, 2019