New sustainability centre to coordinate the drive to net zero

Translational research to help decarbonise organisations across South Yorkshire


Co-designing solutions to regional and global sustainability challenges.

Effective coordination between public, private, third, and academic sector actors will be vital in addressing the challenges of reaching net zero carbon emissions.

Clear coordination and communication at the regional level can help to build momentum, drive innovation, and generate new economic opportunities. 

In South Yorkshire, like many regions, there is a tendency for organisations to work independently without sharing challenges and solutions.

Solving the problem

The University of Sheffield commissioned Urban Foresight to review the potential for a new South Yorkshire Sustainability Centre to convene a network of local companies engaged in the sustainability agenda. The ambition for the centre was to facilitate collaboration on joint projects, disseminate best practice, and share challenges faced by different sectors.

Urban Foresight engaged businesses across all three themes of the proposed programme for the centre. 

A collaborative approach was adopted to facilitate the to co-creation of recommendations on the priorities, remit, and approach to partnership working. This helped to promote buy-in and established what contributions partners could commit to the centre including match funding.

Key outcomes

Our research and stakeholder engagement provided a basis for a successful £5 million funding bid to Research England.

Launched in March 2022, the centre is delivered by a network of academics working closely with the region’s established business and industrial capabilities. It is led by the University of Sheffield through a partnership that includes the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, the four South Yorkshire local authorities, Sheffield Hallam University, and a range of private and voluntary sector organisations.

The centre’s remit includes retrofitting housing, optimising transport routes and decarbonising the food system. Its objective is to help organisations find solutions that consider the environmental aspects of sustainability challenges and balance these against important economic and social factors.