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Sustainability: addressing our environmental impacts

Our sustainability programme aims to address the environmental impacts and carbon emissions of our charitable activity and operations.

Why it's important 

Wellcome has an important contribution to make in addressing the climate and ecological emergency the world is facing.

Our strategic Climate and Health programme aims to put health at the heart of climate change action and will continue to be one of the biggest impacts we can make.

It is also important that we practice what we preach and become a sustainable organisation – this is the focus of our sustainability programme.

What we’re doing 

Our sustainability programme is relevant to everything we do: from our approach to research funding and procurement to how we manage our buildings, business travel, events, data, technology and more.

We have three key areas of focus.

1. Reaching net zero carbon

Our carbon footprint is split across three broad areas:

  • scope 1, direct emissions (these mostly result from our use of gas to heat space and water in our buildings)
  • scope 2, indirect emissions from energy use (at Wellcome, this means the emissions associated with the electricity we purchase)
  • scope 3, other indirect emissions (this includes emissions associated with the goods and services we purchase, the research we fund, and our investments)

Wellcome has committed to be net zero by 2030 for scope 1 and 2 emissions. We are tackling these emissions first as these activities are where we have the most control.

We are working to better understand how we can reduce our scope 3 emissions. We have published a strategy for our investment portfolio to reach net zero by 2050 and are developing further net zero targets for the rest of our scope 3 emissions.

2. Reducing our environmental impacts

Beyond carbon, we also need to consider a range of environmental impacts, in particular our use of resources and waste, energy and water use, and biodiversity and nature impacts.

3. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

In addition to its focus on environmental topics, the sustainability team also works to support a coordinated approach to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) impact across Wellcome, and Wellcome's partners (including Wellcome Sanger Institute and Wellcome Leap). This considers a broad set of topics and actions delivered by different teams across Wellcome, for example, Conduct and Ethics, Community Relations and Engagement, and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

What we’ve done so far 

We are at an early stage of our journey, and our aim is to grow this programme over the coming years as we continue to develop our sustainability ambitions.

  • In 2024 we published a new funding policy that outlines how researchers should address the environmental impact of their work. This coincided with the launch of an environmental sustainability concordat from UK research organisations.
  • In 2021, we published a strategy to drive down carbon emissions for our investment portfolio, with an aim to reach net zero by 2050.
  • There is currently no recognised methodology to measure research funded emissions, so we are exploring how to best tackle them, including how to support advancing environmentally sustainable health research.
  • As an interim measure, we are also mitigating our scope 1 emissions and the scope 3 emissions associated with our business travel by planting trees in the UK through a partnership with the Woodland Trust.
  • In 2020, we started buying our electricity from 100% renewable sources (such as wind and solar), which means we can already regard our electricity as zero emissions. It is still important we reduce the amount of electricity we use to help the UK meet net zero.
  • We are considering our broader ESG impacts and are conducting a materiality assessment to better understand the relative importance for Wellcome of different ESG topics. This approach will help us to identify ESG risks and opportunities for Wellcome and to prioritise our resources where they matter.

Our team 

The programme delivery is led by our in-house Sustainability team, reporting to the Director of Corporate Affairs. They provide subject-matter expertise to shape our approach and are supported by an internal Sustainability Steering Group and Working Group. Specialist external consultants also complement our internal expertise, including the sustainability team at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

  • Charles Joly

    Associate Director, Sustainability


  • Larice Stielow

    Sustainability Programme Manager