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Clocktower.Wednesday 11 April 2018 11:59am

Sustainable goals image
The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainability efforts will operate at a global level at the University of Otago – it is going to be the first New Zealand University to sign the international SDG Accord pursuing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

Chancellor Dr Royden Somerville QC says the Council's decision today to join the Accord of international universities and colleges highlights how Otago aims to contribute to sustainability not only around its campuses and the country, but also around the world.

Accord members pledge to collaborate across cities, regions, countries and continents in a collective international response that involves members reporting annually on how their institution is helping achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and sharing what they have learned along the way.

University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says the goals cover a broad range of issues, including making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, protecting oceans and forests, ending poverty and hunger, and improving health and education.

Universities and colleges internationally recognise their unique role in supporting those goals by nurturing young people as a force for change, and fulfilling the urgent need for new knowledge, rigorous debate and academic objectivity.

All Accord members feel they have a responsibility to play a central and transformational role in reaching the goals by 2030.

Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis says by joining the Accord, Otago has agreed to involve students and academic and professional staff in efforts to achieve the goals, along with communities and other external stakeholders.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise Professor Richard Blaikie says many university academics and groups have already been doing impactful and meaningful research in all 17 areas covered by the Sustainable Development goals .

Office of Sustainability Manager Dr Hilary Phipps says using the goals as a guiding strategy helps the University highlight progress, communicate and engage with others, and elevates Otago's sustainability efforts to a global level.

"The University can use these 17 goals for a better world and cite ways it is helping make that happen, including through our operational activities and research,” Dr Phipps says.

To join the Accord as a University, Professor Hayne or a delegate will sign the Accord on the Accord's website.

The Accord is administered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges and is supported by regional networks, including Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability, whose conference Otago is hosting in November next year.

All the United Nations' 193 member states – including New Zealand – adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their 169 targets in 2015, for the next 15 years. The international university and college sectors launched their Accord in September last year in response, Dr Phipps says.


• The Otago University Students' Association executive has already officially supported the University joining the Accord.
• The University of Otago Council made a strong commitment to sustainability last year when it adopted the Sustainability Strategic Framework: 2017–2021, and its associated 10 priority actions.
Approving that framework made it possible for the University to approach Pioneer Energy about switching the fuel used to produce steam at its Dunedin Energy Centre from coal to wood, which will halve the greenhouse gas emissions created by the University's energy use by mid-2020.

For more information, contact:

Gail Goodger
Communications Advisor
Phone:021 279 8946

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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