May 5, 2022

UCalgary climbs to top 3% of Times Higher Education global sustainability ranking

Water sanitation, health and well-being efforts among top-performing categories
Sustainability Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2022

It’s time to raise a glass — of fresh, sanitary water — to the hundreds of University of Calgary researchers, staff and students whose array of sustainability efforts are being noticed by the world.

UCalgary ranked among the top three per cent of universities worldwide that participated in this year’s Times Higher Education World University Impact Rankings. The university’s holistic, multidisciplinary approach to sustainability helped it secure the 42nd spot among more than 1,400 global institutions, as measured by their progress in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The credit for this achievement belongs to each member of the university community who has contributed to the vast array of projects working to create a better world, says Dr. Teri Balser, PhD, provost and vice-president (academic).

“The teams of professors, researchers, students and staff are the driving force behind the incredible success of so many sustainable efforts at the university,” she says. “Each person’s contribution brings us closer to our sustainability goals.”

This collaborative mindset is echoed in UCalgary’s holistic approach to sustainability, pouring resources into everything from innovative research on urban design and community planning to championing good health and well-being for local and international populations. Outstanding work to promote access to clean water and sanitation shot UCalgary into the top 10 in the world for SDG 6, and first among Canadian universities for that category.

“It’s inspiring to see the vision of our community manifest into something that has real impact on life in Calgary and around the world,” says Balser. “Our people shine when they collaborate. This, coupled with our commitment to transdisciplinary scholarship, makes me more and more eager to see what is next from the university’s best minds.”

Collectively, Canadian universities had an impressive showing this year, demonstrating robust sustainability leadership. Canada was the third-strongest performing country for 2022, following Australia in second and the U.K. in the top spot.

Sustainability in action

The University Impact Ranking assessed the University of Calgary against the SDGs. The ranking provides a comprehensive comparison between hundreds of institutions around the world, measuring efforts in four main categories: research, teaching, outreach and stewardship.

Faculty, staff, students and the UCalgary community are championing many initiatives that are having valuable impact locally and far beyond. Below are only a few of the projects that demonstrate the university’s leadership in sustainability, according to the SDGs and the criteria of the Times Higher Education rankings.

SDG 3 UCalgary rank 2022

45th out of 1,101 participating institutions, ranking in the top 4% for SDG 3.

Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-being 

Collaborations with local or global health institutions to improve health and well-being outcomes: Leaders with the O’Brien Institute for Public Health are working with Indigenous communities to address health inequities, including testing drone delivery for medical supplies to remote communities during the pandemic.

Collaborations with local or global health institutions to improve health and well-being outcomes: Researchers with UCalgary’s Child Health and Wellness Strategy are propelling discoveries in areas such as child brain development, preventing kidney failure in children who contract E. coli, and the global youth mental health crisis arising during the pandemic.

Deliver outreach programmes and projects in the local community to improve or promote health and well-being: The Cumming School of Medicine’s Indigenous, Local and Global Health Office is collaborating with communities to improve the health of Indigenous women and two-spirited persons. Another program links first-year medical students with communities to directly learn about their health-care experiences.

UCalgary ranked 10th in SDG6

10th out of 634 participating institutions, ranking in the top 2% for SDG 6.

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Co-operation with local, regional, national and global governments on water security: The innovative university staff who make up the Health Water Ecosystems Working Group (One Health at UCalgary) stepped up for Albertans to adapt their expertise to track evidence of COVID-19 in the wastewater of 3.2 million people.

UCalgary ranks 34th in the world for SDG 11

34th out of 783 participating institutions, ranking in the top 4% for SDG 11.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Work with local authorities to address planning issues/development, including ensuring that local residents are able to access affordable housing: The bright minds at UCalgary’s Urban Lab are conducting research into developing a vision of urban life that is ecologically and economically sustainable. Some efforts focus on the problems with Calgary’s urban sprawl, while others are looking internationally to inform sustainable-housing ideas.

UCalgary ranked 28th in the world for SDG 15

28th out of 521 participating institutions, ranking in the top 5% for SDG 15.

Goal 15: Life on Land

Work directly to maintain and extend existing ecosystems and their biodiversity, of both plants and animals, especially ecosystems under threat: Alberta’s provincial fish have allies in UCalgary researchers who are working with key partners to save the bull trout.

Support or organize events aimed to promote conservation and sustainable utilization of the land, including forests and wild land: UCalgary Biogeoscience Institute Community Outreach Programs connect science, research and education with the public. The Barrier Lake Field Station welcomes students who investigate thriving plant life in Kananaskis Country, while other students study wild bats and fish. The public can get involved with two citizen-science projects — reporting observations at Barrier Lake Field Station or with the pollinator garden.


UCalgary ranked 51st in the world for SDG 17

51st out of 1,438 participating institutions, ranking in the top 4% for SDG 15.

Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Initiate and participate in cross-sectoral dialogue about the SDGs: UCalgary hosts the Sustainable Development Goals Alliance Annual Summit, which is organized by enterprising students who facilitate workshops about creating meaningful change in our community and around the world.




The University of Calgary’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy provides a road map for continuous improvement in our pursuit of excellence and leadership in sustainability. We aim to be a Canadian post-secondary education leader in sustainability in our academic and engagement programs, administrative and operational practices, and through supporting community and industry in their aims for leadership in sustainability. Learn more about UCalgary’s leadership in sustainability.