Sustainability Policy


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


The purpose of this policy is to provide a vision and a set of principles to guide our actions to support sustainability and improve our environmental performance.


“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 sustainability.

Our commitment to sustainability is reinforced by the University’s Strategic Plan 2013–2020, and 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 in 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 and students
    • recognise their role as stewards of the resources they use
    • take action to minimise adverse impacts on the environment as a result of their activities and
    • protect and enhance the 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 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 high quality research across all our disciplines that is socially, culturally, economically and environmentally beneficial (Strategic Plan 2013-2020, p12)

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

Teaching and learning for sustainability

The University recognises that the most significant impact we have on society results from the enhanced capabilities of our graduates (Strategic Plan 2013- 2020, p8).

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 all of their chosen fields have to play in the pursuit of sustainability, 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 opportunities, and will ensure that interdisciplinary activities are encouraged, supported and recognised

Sustainable operating practices

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 (Strategic Plan 2013-2020, p16).

5. We will continue to build a strong and sustainable economic foundation, high quality infrastructure and a healthy environment

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

This includes:

  • minimising the energy, water and material resources we use
  • reducing our wastes and emissions at source
  • recovering resources for re-use and recycling
  • applying sustainability principles to the design, building, refurbishment and operation of our buildings and to the management of our campuses and biodiversity reserves and
  • promoting the use of sustainable modes of transport

7. We will continue to draw on knowledge and experience within and beyond the University, and will apply life-cycle costing to fully understand the long-term costs and benefits of options for further improvement

Partnerships for sustainability

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 (Strategic Plan 2013-2020, p14).

8. We recognise the special significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and are committed to maintaining partnerships that advance shared aims and aspirations (Strategic Plan 2013-2020, p13)

9. We also recognise that many communities contribute to and draw upon our research, teaching and ideas and we are committed to developing and enhancing partnerships that will advance sustainability

Capacity building and networking to advance sustainability

The University recognises that we cannot achieve our aspiration of being a leading public university of global standing in isolation, and that we need to build our relationships with leading universities which share our commitment to excellence in research-led education (Strategic Plan 2013-2020, p19)

10. We are committed to collaboration and cooperation with universities 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

11. The University will identify key performance indicators for the principles in sections 1 to 10 above and report annually on these indicators and other relevant achievements and activities


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

Strategic Plan 2013-2020 means the University of Auckland Strategic Plan 2013-2020

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:   University Registrar

Approved by:  Vice-Chancellor

Date approved:    08 May 2014

Date effective:    15 May 2014

Review date:   15 May 2019