A sustainable world

How do we sustain our planet and feed the world’s population?

By understanding how organisms interact and evolve in response to natural and man-made change, we are devising new approaches to improve agriculture, secure environmental resources and maintain biodiversity.

We are developing sustainable technologies and interventions to maintain food and energy supplies, support manufacturing, understand and change human behaviour and to monitor, predict and alleviate the effects of human activity on the planet.

We have a total of £39 million in grant income in this area. This success is mediated by world-class facilities and an interconnected network of interdisciplinary institutes and centres including:

Institute for Sustainable Food

Grantham Centre


Understanding plant genetics to solve food shortages

Professors Colin Osborne, Jurriaan Ton and Julie Gray are three plant scientists who are taking different, ground-breaking approaches to the future of food. As the world's population continues to grow, they're finding ways to increase yields so that everyone can have enough to eat.

The Future of Food

Colin, Jurriaan and Julie

Growing food in mattress foam at refugee camps

Plants in foam

Professor Tony Ryan is Director of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. He's been spending time with Syrian refugees in Za'atari camp, Jordan, applying polymer chemistry to develop novel agriculture solutions.

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The threat of soil degradation – and the possible solution

Duncan at COP21

At the historic Paris climate change negotiations, Professor Duncan Cameron presented a policy paper on the urgent need to address soil degradation, and set out a vision for a sustainable agriculture system.

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Farming with rocks to reduce CO2


A study in Nature Plants has shown how food security could be improved by applying enhanced rock weathering on farms.

Full story


A new dawn for solar energy farms?

Solar panels

Dr Alastair Buckley writes for The Conversation about Cleve Hill solar farm, the largest solar power plant ever proposed in the UK.

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Models show dangerous climate change is likely


New mathematical models show if governments will meet their temperature targets, published in Nature Climate Change.

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Controlled environment facilities

Bloggers from visual storytelling platform Haarkon visited the Arthur Willis Environment Centre and the Sir David Read Controlled Environment Facility, to photograph the University of Sheffield's world-class controlled environment facilities. You can see lots of images from the shoot and find out what they learned about the Institute for Sustainable Food on the Haarkon site.

Explore on Haarkon

P3 / Haarkon 1

P3 / Haarkon 2

P3 / Haarkon 3

A sustainable campus

The University of Sheffield is taking steps to create a more sustainable campus, through a sustainability strategy partly led by plant and soil biologist Professor Duncan Cameron. The plan commits us to action over the next year, to be updated with further metrics and an action plan for the next decade.

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Sustainability strategy


Our quest to make the UK's most sustainable cup of coffee

Sustainable coffee

Professor Duncan Cameron has worked with industry partners to make the supply chain for coffee sold on the University of Sheffield campus as sustainable as possible – from the beans and milk to the cups we drink from.

Full story

VIDEO     Our research centres 

The Institute for Sustainable Food



Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures



Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation