Sustainability Action Blog


Five reasons why I love organising awards

By Julia Kendal |

Cameroon Catalyst Student Group Winners 2016

On Thursday 10 March 2016 around 80 students and staff gathered for the presentation of the 2016 Sustainability Action Award winners and runners up. The awards ceremony is a personal highlight in the Sustainability Action Programme calendar for several reasons:

  1. It recognises people for what they are already doing. The awards are for students and staff who are already taking action to make a difference – through research, teaching, better work practices, volunteering locally and abroad… Sometimes it can be hard to keep changing the world for the better; the awards show people that their efforts are both seen and valued.
  2. It’s an opportunity to learn. The award winners and runners up are at the cutting edge of what students and staff, individuals and groups, can achieve in terms of sustainability. Bringing together people involved in such a broad range of social, economic and environmental initiatives is a wonderful moment to learn from each other and continue to innovate.
  3. It’s always inspiring. Each year the awards judging panel is always impressed by the ingenuity and impact of the work of Southampton’s students and staff. Lives are genuinely being changed for the better because of them. It is a privilege to read about the range of initiatives going on; I hope that the ceremony attendees are similarly inspired.Recipe for Change
  4. It can change the narrative of sustainability. This sector can be accused of being ‘the dismal science’ sometimes, with the conversation being primarily about loss – of species, of land, of life. The awards focus on positive actions and their impacts. This was summed up this year by the winning image in our new ‘Sustainability Action Photographer of the Year’ Competition. Dr Lipi Begum’s photograph ‘Recipe for Change’ shows a positive narrative about Bangladesh; a place normally portrayed as a victim of climate change and global forces, the photograph celebrates one of the innovative ways individuals there are working to alleviate poverty and promote responsible consumption.
  5. It’s a chance to say ‘thank you’. As well as the award nominees, the ceremony attendees also include staff and students who are involved in the breadth of sustainability initiatives at the University. Bringing them together in one place is a good moment to express, with the help of canapés, thanks for their ongoing work.

Congratulations to all the winners and runners up! I look forward to the 2017 awards already.


Read about the 2016 winners and runners up  to be inspired too.