Sustainability Policy


All University Council members, staff members and students, suppliers, partners, contractors and tenants.


To provide a vision and a set of principles to guide our actions to support sustainability and improve our environmental performance.


Taumata Teitei, the University of Auckland Strategic plan 2021 – Holds as its Vision (2030)

We will be internationally recognised for our unique contribution to fair, ethical and sustainable societies. We will continue to be world-leading in extending the reach and significance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the Core of that vision are the Te Ao Māori principles of Kaitiakitanga, Manaakitanga, Whanaungatanga and the commitment of the University to Te Tiriti.

“The challenges of the decline of biodiversity, of energy, food, and water security, of climate change, of economic sustainability and human health have been recognised as being among the greatest faced by the human race and the planet and we believe that the urgency of these requires unity of purpose and of leadership. We recognise that universities have important roles in researching solutions to such problems so as to bequeath a sustainable world to future generations, and in educating future generations about this awareness and research.” (Universitas 21 Statement on Sustainability)

In establishing this policy, the University reinforces its commitment to build on its achievements in the efficient management of energy, water and key material resources, and the minimisation of waste and emissions, and commits to continue to find new and innovative ways to demonstrate leadership in research, teaching, learning, operations, partnerships, capacity building and networking to advance social, environmental and economic sustainability.

Our commitment to sustainability and the SDGs is a foundation of Taumata Teitei Vision 2021-2030 Strategic Plan 2021-2025 and is reinforced by the Universitas 21 Statement on Sustainability, to which the University is a signatory.

Together, these commitments coalesce into a vision for the University where:

  • research, teaching and action for sustainability are actively encouraged and supported
  • the University’s achievements in this regard are to a level where they can make a difference for the world
  • staff members are attracted to the University to research, teach and practice sustainability
  • students are attracted to the University to learn, research and contribute to sustainability
  • ideas and concepts around sustainability are germinated and taken beyond the University to the workforce and society, where they are further developed and brought to fruition, and
  • staff, students, suppliers, contractors, and our key partners
    • recognise their role as stewards of the resources they use
    • take action to prevent and minimise adverse impacts on land, freshwater and marine environments and global climate processes as a result of their activities and
    • protect and enhance the ecosystems, and life-supporting characteristics of our world

Principles and policy statements

In addition to the vision presented above, this document lays out the key principles that the University will follow to achieve our obligations with regard to sustainability:

Research and innovation towards a sustainable future

While we recognise the intrinsic value of knowledge and diverse disciplinary intellectual traditions, we also recognise that finding solutions to the challenges faced in pursuit of sustainability will require expertise from across those disciplines.

1. The University is committed to ambitious research confronting humanity’s greatest challenges (Taumata Teitei 2021-2030).

2. Because of the critical and urgent nature of these challenges, we are committed to promoting and encouraging researchers who collaborate across disciplines, institutions, and national boundaries to generate and disseminate the knowledge necessary to achieve sustainability and the SDGs.

Education and student experience for sustainability

The University recognises that the most significant impact we have on society results from graduates who make the world better tomorrow than it is today. (Taumata Teitei 2021-2030)

3. We are committed to ensuring that the education our students receive, across a comprehensive portfolio of academic programmes, includes opportunities for understanding the role that their chosen fields have to play in the pursuit of sustainability and the SDGs, and that they develop the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute towards sustainable societies.

4. We are also committed to ensuring that their learning experiences are enriched by interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary opportunities and will ensure that interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary activities are encouraged, supported and recognised.

Sustainable enabling environment

The University recognises that we cannot plunder the future in order to pay for the present and is committed to ensuring that we have a sustainable organisation that will endure.

5. We will continue to build a strong and sustainable economic foundation, high quality infrastructure, a net carbon zero estate and a healthy environment (Te Rautaki Tuāpapa - Estate Strategy 2021-2030, Te Rautaki Matihiko | The University of Auckland Digital Strategy 2025).

6. We will act as a role model for sustainable practices and involving all our staff and students in on-going improvement in our environmental performance.

7. We will commit to achieving net-zero carbon and to publish meaningful metrics of the University’s progress towards overall sustainability (Taumata Teitei 2021-2030, Te Rautaki Tuāpapa - Estate Strategy 2021-2030).

This includes:

  • minimising the energy, water and material resources we use, including electricity, gas, water and recycled water, single use and disposable materials, packaging and plastics
  • preventing and minimising our wastes (including food waste) and emissions at source by monitoring and actively managing activities including air travel
  • recovering resources for re-use and recycling including water, research equipment, building fittings and furniture and digital items
  • applying sustainability principles to the design, building, refurbishment, and operation of our buildings and to the management of our campuses and biodiversity reserves
  • apply considerations of biodiversity and ecosystem enhancement, with reference to locally endangered and threatened species, to our campuses, forest reserves and adjacent marine reserves
  • promoting and accommodating the use of sustainable modes of transport including cycling, walking, public transport, and electric vehicles including bicycles

8. We will continue to draw on knowledge and experience within and beyond the University and will apply life-cycle costing to fully inform decision making of the short term and the long-term costs and benefits of options in planning and procurement.

Partnerships for sustainability

The priority of the University is to be recognised and valued by our communities for the contributions we make towards a more sustainable future for all. As an international and research-intensive university and public institution with strong civic roots, the University embraces its obligations to the region and nation, and upholds its role as critic and conscience of society (Taumata Teitei 2021-2030)

9. We recognise the special significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and are committed to maintaining partnerships that advance shared aims and aspirations (Taumata Teitei 2021-2030).

10. We also recognise that many international and local communities contribute to and draw upon our research, teaching and ideas and we are committed to identifying, developing, and enhancing partnerships that will advance sustainability for all. (Taumata Teitei 2021-2030, Te Rautaki Matihiko | The University of Auckland Digital Strategy 2025).

11. We are committed to collaboration and cooperation with universities and organisations that are leaders in sustainability, and to learning from and sharing experiences in research, teaching and learning, as well as sustainable operating practices.

Monitoring and reporting

12. The University will identify key performance indicators for the principles in items 1 to 11 above and report regularly on these indicators and other relevant achievements and activities.


The following definitions apply to this document: 

Council is the University's governing body which comprises lay, staff and student members.

Taumata Teitei 2021-2030 means the University of Auckland Vision 2021-2030 and Strategic Plan 2021-2025.

Te Rautaki Tūāpapa 2021-2030 means the University of Auckland Estate Strategy 2021-2030.

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.

Sustainability is derived from the concept of ‘sustainable development’ which was first defined by the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987 as:

‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.

It recognises the need to integrate social, economic, cultural and environmental imperatives, and to ensure that human activities respect, conserve, maintain and enhance the integrity of the Earth’s life-supporting systems.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Content manager: Sustainability and Environment Manager
Owned by: Deputy Vice Chancellor Strategic Engagement
Approved by: Vice-Chancellor
First approved: 08 May 2014
Current version approved: 02 November 2021
Review date: 02 November 2026