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Sustainability Policy




Policy statements

Policy ownership and support


Approval information

PDF version


1. Purpose

1.1 The Sustainability Policy (the policy) provides a framework for embedding sustainable practice at UTS across four key areas: teaching and learning, research, facilities and operations, and partnerships and engagement.

1.2 UTS recognises its role in educating future leaders and in shaping values, attitudes and behaviours. Sustainability is one of the university’s values under the UTS 2027 strategy.

2. Scope

2.1 This policy applies to all UTS staff, students, affiliates and visitors.

3. Principles

3.1 This policy affirms the principles of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which provide ‘the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’. UTS is a signatory to the:

3.2 Consistent with its vision and values, UTS is committed to the promotion of the following principles:

  • Local–global perspective: UTS is cognisant that its activities have an influence beyond the boundaries of the university due to inherent connections to the local and global communities.
  • Precautionary principle: Where there are risks of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific understanding shall not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation or social harm.
  • Whole systems approach: Long-term economic, social and environmental considerations are integrated into the university’s strategic decision-making processes to improve sustainability outcomes.
  • Shared responsibility: All members of the university community share responsibility for its sustainability performance and outcomes.
  • Participation and communication: UTS engages students, staff and the community in decision-making processes related to the sustainability outcomes of its activities and openly reports actions and progress.
  • Continual improvement: UTS strives for continual improvement in sustainability performance in terms of environmental integrity, financial viability and social equity and diversity.

4. Policy statements

4.1 This policy integrates sustainability principles into UTS’s key functional areas. Through its teaching and learning, research, facilities and operations, and partnerships and engagement, UTS aims to:

  • minimise the environmental impact of its operations and move towards restoring environmental integrity
  • in collaboration with the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion’s Social Impact Framework and the Equity, Inclusion and Respect Policy, promote social justice, equity and diversity
  • contribute to human health and wellbeing
  • maintain its financial viability.

4.2 Through this policy and the Sustainability Strategy (available at Leading by example), UTS aims to:

  • demonstrate leadership in sustainable development in the university sector, and to foster sustainability values and principles for students, staff and the wider community
  • enable students and staff to acquire the skills and knowledge to contribute to a sustainable future
  • ensure that its commitments under environmental, health and safety, equity and diversity and financial legislation are met, and
  • continually improve its sustainability performance and impact.

4.3 The Sustainability Strategy outlines strategic sustainability initiatives in teaching and learning, research, facilities and operations, and partnerships and engagement. It is the key strategic document through which this policy will be implemented. The strategy also details sustainability governance, implementation, integration and resources.

4.4 The Sustainability Steering Committee oversees the Sustainability Strategy and associated plans, which are reviewed and updated at regular intervals. The Sustainable Development Working Group reports to and operates under the steering committee.

4.5 UTS details progress against the UN SDG and the Sustainability Strategy as part of the annual sustainability report.

5. Policy ownership and support

5.1 Policy owner: The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is responsible for the strategic oversight of this policy, managing its enforcement and compliance (divisionally and generally across the university) and ensuring its principles and statements are observed. The COO is also responsible for embedding sustainability principles into campus operations, governance and financial planning and for approving and implementing the Sustainability Strategy.

5.2 Policy contact: The Head of Sustainability is responsible for:

  • implementing the Sustainability Policy and embedding sustainability principles into university facilities and operations and supporting their integration into teaching and learning, research, partnerships and engagement
  • assisting the integration of SDGs into all university activities, and
  • reporting on UTS’s sustainability activities, including those in support of the UN SDG.

5.3 Others:

All members of the senior executive have specific responsibilities in line with this policy:

  • The Provost is responsible for embedding sustainability principles into the UTS 2027 strategy and UTS social inclusion priorities and for embedding sustainability principles into academic practices.
  • The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) is responsible for embedding sustainability principles into teaching and learning.
  • The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for embedding sustainability principles into research.

The Director, Campus Strategy and Facilities is responsible for ensuring integration of sustainability initiatives into the planning, design, construction and operation of new and existing buildings and campus infrastructure.

The Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures is responsible for contributing to the implementation of this policy, the Sustainability Strategy and associated plans and programs in consultation with the Head of Sustainability.

The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for organisational financial viability and the procurement of goods and services.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Social Justice and Inclusion) is responsible for the Social Impact Framework and the promotion of social sustainability through equity and inclusion, diversity and access.

6. Definitions

The following definitions apply for this policy and all associated procedures. Definitions in the singular also include the plural meaning of the word.

Affiliate is defined in the Code of Conduct.

Sustainability (also sustainable development) is defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda and means: ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. It is further recognised that sustainable development calls for concerted efforts towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and planet; ‘for sustainable development to be achieved, it is crucial to harmonize three core elements: economic health, social inclusion and environmental protection. These elements are interconnected and all are crucial for the well-being of individuals and societies’.

Approval information

Policy contact Head of Sustainability
Approval authority Council
Review date 2022
File number UR08/697
Superseded documents Environmental Sustainability Policy (2008)

Version history

Version Approved by Approval date Effective date Sections modified
1.0 Council, COU/14-6/136 26/11/2014 01/01/2015 New policy.
1.1 Director, Governance Support Unit (Delegation 3.14.1) 18/11/2021 24/11/2021 Revised policy to apply new template, align with Fit for 2027 restructure, apply general updates and corrections and update the definition of sustainability.
1.2 Deputy Director, Corporate Governance (Delegation 3.14.2) 03/03/2022 03/03/2022 Change to reflect new title of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Social Justice and Inclusion)

PDF version

Sustainability Policy (PDF 196 KB)


Climate Emergency Declaration

Equity, Inclusion and Respect Policy

Principles for Responsible Investment

Race to Zero

Social Impact Framework

Sustainability Strategy (available at Leading by example)

United Nations Global Compact

University Commitment to the SDGs

UTS 2027 strategy