Staff have their say on sustainability

01 December 2009

sustainability workshop_30 nov 2009

About 70 University of Auckland staff members attended a workshop at the Fale Pasifika on 30 November to discuss what the University can do to become an international leader in teaching and researching sustainability.

The workshop, the first in a series of three, centred on the University’s commitments under the Universitas 21 Statement of Sustainability – a document signed by The University of Auckland and 20 other research-led universities from around the world.

The University of Auckland has a growing range of courses to attract students interested in studying sustainability, everything from ecological restoration to building sustainable homes and businesses. More than 150 academic staff members from eight faculties and 30 departments now offer over 160 undergraduate and 110 postgraduate courses with a sustainability theme.

Staff at the workshop learned about what the University is trying to achieve with the U21 Sustainability Project, including developing more interdisciplinary research opportunities.
The interactive workshop also provided staff with opportunities to tell others about the diverse range of sustainability initiatives they are personally involved in.

Dr Lesley Stone, the University’s Sustainability and Environmental Coordinator, was one of a team of staff from across the University who helped organise the workshop.

Lesley says the feedback from the workshop will help the U21 Sustainability Project Steering Committee, of which she is co-chair, develop a plan for what specific actions the University should take to meet its U21 commitments.

“We received some very valuable feedback from staff about what they think we should be doing to move forward, and what they think the University as a whole can do to empower its staff working in this field,” says Lesley.

“The staff present expressed many different ways of approaching sustainability. This workshop was about hearing, acknowledging, encouraging and valuing all those diverse perspectives.”

Within the next three years the University will be required to report back to the U21 committee on the success of its programmes to reduce the overall adverse environmental effects of its activities.

“It’s critical that universities such as ours are leaders in promoting a sustainable world and creating a new future,” says Lesley.

The next U21 Sustainability Project workshops will be held on 9 and 17 February 2010 from 1 to 5pm at the Fale Pasifika. The workshops are open to all staff. To register, please contact Lesley Stone (

The U21 Sustainability Project is supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Development Fund. For more information on the project, go to