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UNSW releases first sustainability report, but no word on divestment

The Tyree Energy Technologies Building

UPDATED: The University of New South Wales has published a stand-alone, publicly accessible sustainability strategy, and says it is the first Group of Eight university to have done so. Based on the Global Reporting Initiative, the report has been created to identify issues impacting on the environment and society resulting from UNSW’s business activities, and provide a snapshot of achievements as well as future aspirations.

The online-only sustainability report covers environmental sustainability areas like water, energy, waste, transport and purchasing, as well as social sustainability areas like equity, diversity, safety and education.

It provides a range of “fast facts” on sustainability, including that 217 megawatt hours of electricity was generated by the Tyree Energy Technologies Building last year; there were 77 PhDs awarded around sustainability last year; and 79 per cent of campus waste was recycled. It also includes case studies and multimedia content.

“It’s been a particularly strong year for sustainability,” director of UNSW Safety and Sustainability Aaron Magner said.

UPDATE: The Australian National University has said it was the first to release a stand-alone, publicly accessible sustainability report – the annual report of the Environmental Management Planning Committee to the Vice-Chancellor.

However, with news of ANU’s divestment eliciting outrage from government and select financial media, and other GO8 members like the University of Sydney divesting fossil fuel holdings, it seems odd there would be no mention of where UNSW puts its money.

According to Mr Magner, however, the issue of investments in fossil fuels has come along so fast that when stakeholder engagement occurred early last year to find out what were issues of material concern, it simply wasn’t on the radar – even for students.

“The issue didn’t have the same currency and wasn’t conceptualised as a sustainability indicator.” he told The Fifth Estate.

Though over the past 6-12 months, he said, it had become a leading sustainability issue for universities, and one he very much expected would be part of the 2014 sustainability report.

“Transparency is one of the cornerstones of sustainability,” he said.

See the report.

Comments

One Response to “UNSW releases first sustainability report, but no word on divestment”

  • Corey Peterson says:

    UNSW deserves hearty congratulations on their GRI-based Sustainability Report. It sets a wonderful standard for all the other Australasian universities (and dare I say TAFEs). Great work to Aaron and UNSW. I look very much forward to reading the document.
    Corey Peterson
    Sustainability Manager
    University of Tasmania

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