The University is committed to a sustainable future, and has ambitions to lead and deliver positive and sustainable change for good. Solving known and evolving problems of today, and preparing our emerging leaders for tomorrow, is our strength.
The previous Campus Sustainability Plan (2016-2020) outlined the University’s first coordinated suite of strategies to reduce carbon emissions and engage the campus community in sustainable action.Tangible outcomes from this include 30% of waste diverted from landfill, 2MW of solar energy generation on-campus, and we have reduced our on-campus building energy use by 18% since 2014.
We derive renewable energy from our rooftops and solar farm at our Roseworthy campus to augment the world-leading supply of renewable energy from South Australia’s impressive and increasingly decarbonised grid.
This work has been recognised at a State and national level and has provided the University with a foundation for delivering low-carbon campus operations.
But like most – we must do much more.
The University has created our new Sustainability Strategy to help accelerate sustainable transitions and contribute to global solutions for health, peace and prosperity of the planet.
Called Here for Good, our strategy provides a framework not only for how the University of Adelaide can lead sustainability transitions on campus, but also for how we can become a university of choice for sustainability education and breakthrough research translated for environmental benefit.
The objective of the strategy is to embed sustainability across the institution in all decision-making, and to arm our graduates, communities and government leaders with the knowledge and innovations to adapt well and prosper across generations. As a signatory of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since 2016, the University is well placed to help businesses, industries, governments and future generations in progressing sustainable transitions locally and globally.
Our world-class researchers and teachers are already building sustainable pathways to address the issues of climate change, food security, water security, biodiversity, health and housing. Here for Good builds on this to ensure we respond to the SDGs through our research, teaching, community outreach and campus operations. Central themes throughout the strategy are how the University will achieve global impact, lead by example, encourage transdisciplinary research and teaching, and unite to achieve not only our own community but broader societal sustainability goals.
The University of Adelaide supports sustainable transitions through generating new ideas, researching solutions and preparing graduates with capabilities to solve complex problems. Global environmental change challenges every aspect of our lives and can only be effectively addressed by collaboration across a multitude of disciplines.We are continuing to build a comprehensive and integrated portfolio of research that addresses our most pressing local, regional and global environmental challenges to achieve transformational change for good.
The development of our strategy has been guided by advice and feedback from staff, students, the Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee, and our broader community.
It serves as a signal that we wish to partner with our community, with industry and the wider South Australian society to turn our ambitions into reality.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have lived in this country for over 60,000 years and in Caring for Country, are experts in sustainability. Across every element of our Sustainability Strategy, we seek to learn from cultural knowledge and make positive change with an ethos of Caring for Country and culture in our heads and our hearts.
The decision to act and put the University on a more sustainable path is not a hard one to make. In fact, it is not really a choice at all but an imperative. Every fraction of a degree of global warming we avoid lessens the impact on future generations.
In 2017, the world had already warmed by one degree from pre-industrial levels.We must act with speed and scale. The University of Adelaide is up for the challenge, and in a position to help our communities and partners with their aspirational sustainability transitions.
We have set a target to accelerate decarbonisation efforts within our campus footprint by achieving net zero by 2025 and carbon neutrality by 2030. Our commitment to responsible investment includes a transition plan to divest from all direct fossil fuel investments by the end of 2024. We have targets addressing responsible procurement and reduction of waste, sustainable transition and decarbonisation efforts within our campus operations, and revegetation and biodiversity on our campuses.
Our cumulatively greatest contribution to society accrues through our educational activities and the lifetime contributions alumni make to society. We have a critical role to play in supporting the learning and development of the next generation of world leaders. Moving forward, all graduates will be exposed to sustainability considerations in their degree, and we will embed sustainability in our graduate attributes and in relevant education programs across the University.
“The decision to act and put the University on a more sustainable path is not a hard one to make. In fact, it is not really a choice at all but an imperative.”Professor Melissa Nursey-Bray, Chair of the University’s Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee
Here for Good outlines the University’s commitments and vision for a sustainable future that is embedded across our Institution. You can find the strategy and more about how you can join us to make transformational change here.
Story by the Environment Institute’s Professor Melissa Nursey-Bray, Chair of the University’s Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee, Director of Adaption, Community and Environment.
Article extracted from the University’s Winter 2023 Lumen Magazine.
Lead Image: Peter Garrett performing at the Here for Good concert, March