Further embedding sustainability into the University's core

Sustainability is deeply embedded in everything we do at the University of Melbourne. Our Sustainability Plan 2017-2020 details how, over the coming years, we will implement new ways of governing and operating our organisation in a warming world.

We acknowledge the seriousness and urgency of the threats posed by a changing climate and fully support a lower emissions future. Our Plan is deliberately ambitious. It represents our strengthened commitment to lead and act on sustainability challenges. Our efforts focus on the integration of research, teaching, engagement, governance and operations. We aspire to develop our campuses as models of resilient communities.

Through extensive consultation with our community, we have developed a:

  • Sustainability Charter setting out our top level principles, values, and commitments, and a
  • Sustainability Plan outlining priority actions and targets required to achieve the Charter commitments.

Each year until 2020 we will assess our progress toward our goals through a Sustainability Report that holistically considers all our sustainability activities


Get involved

We consulted widely with students, staff, and the community to develop the Sustainability Plan, and the passion for sustainability in our community was made perfectly apparent.

We are grateful to everyone who took part in those conversations, and now invite you to join us in our implementation journey. Achieving the targets of the Plan demand holistic actions across the organisation, and together we must work to meet these goals.

There will be a number of ways to get involved in 2017, including by becoming a sustainability advocate or joining the Green Impact program. If you would like to be kept up to date with these and other opportunities, sign up to the Sustainable Campus newsletter below.

Our progress

This month the University of Melbourne released its second public sustainability report. The report covers our environmental and social performance during the calendar year from 1 January to 31 December 2016. We intend to continue to report our performance annually. Our first sustainability report was released in April 2016 for the 2015 calendar year.

This report has been prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards: Core option. It discloses our performance against the issues that are considered most material to our stakeholders, including students, employees, business, industry, government and community partners.

Read the Sustainability Report 2016

26 May 2017

The University’s approach to developing a Sustainable Investment Framework has been completed, in line with the priority action from the Sustainability Plan 2017 - 2020.

The framework will enable assessment of material climate change risk, to incorporate into decisions regarding the University’s investment portfolio.

The Sustainable Investment Framework (SIF) is being developed through 2017 for finalisation by end 2017.

30 March 2017

The University’s approach to biodiversity is available to view through the Biodiversity Management Plan 2017 - 2020. The plan has been released in line with a priority action from the Sustainability Plan 2017 - 2020, which outlines the key target to 'Publish a University-wide Biodiversity Management Plan by March 2017'. It will now be sent to the Landscape Committee for ratification.

The plan will enable the University to take steps and implement strategies to ensure that the biodiversity on campus is preserved and enabled to thrive.

Read the Biodiversity Management Plan 2017-2020 here.

23 March 2017

An event for staff and students on campus was the next step in deploying the Sustainability Plan 2017-2020. It drew an enthusiastic group of people interested in a sustainable future for the University, many who signed up to become Sustainability Advocates.

Vice-Principal Administration & Finance and CFO Allan Tait, who Chairs the Sustainability Executive said he was grateful to everyone for what they had done, but also for what they were going to do. He said the plan would only work if everyone got involved.

So now is the time for everyone to think about the small, everyday things we can do to build sustainability, and be ready to get involved in delivering the long-term, more complicated stretch targets that lie ahead.

The detailed Plan is here.

There will be a number of ways to get involved in 2017, including by becoming a Sustainability Advocate. If you would like to kept up to date with opportunities, sign up to the Sustainable Campus newsletter.

Staff, students and members of the Sustainability Executive mingle at the morning tea.

2 March 2017

Between 1 April and 26 August 2016 the University of Melbourne sought engagement on the development of the Sustainability Plan in the areas of Research, Teaching & Learning, Operations, Engagement and Governance.

There were university forums held on the topic of divestment and what the Sustainability Plan is. The general forum on the Sustainability Plan was held on 5 May, with the investment forum held on 9 August. View a recap of the investment forum here.

As a result of this consultation the Sustainability Plan was designed in collaboration with staff, students and other University stakeholders.

Read the full Call for Engagement.

26 August 2016

The University of Melbourne's Sustainability Charter released in March 2016 set out a commitment to "implement investment strategies consistent with the University's commitment to sustainability and its financial and legal responsibilities".

Hosted by Maxine McKew, Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne and featuring Professor Don Henry, Melbourne Enterprise Professor of Environmentalism, the University community had the opportunity to debate over the most effective approach a university can take to contribute to limiting global warming below 2 degrees.

Download the Investments Forum Information Pack here.

Read the event recap here or watch below.

9 August 2016

The Sustainability Charter is an enduring document, which defines our principles, values and high-level commitments for each of our activity areas. The development of the Sustainability Charter was highlighted in Growing Esteem, the University of Melbourne's five-year strategy governing teaching and learning, research and engagement.

Consultation for the Charter spanned ten weeks from October to December 2015 with the University receiving over 200 submissions. Two events were held: a consultation on campus and a public forum featuring Professor Ross Garnaut, Chief Financial Officer Alan Tait, State MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell, UMSU Representative Anisa Roger and Deputy Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute Roger Dargerville.

Consultation also included discussions with 11 various University committees and the University was also fortunate to have the Graduate Student Association (GSA) & Fossil Free Melbourne University (FFMU) run their own successful consultation events. A guide on how the charter was developed is available as is the rationale behind its development.

The Sustainability Charter celebrates the dedication of the University of Melbourne community to upholding its social responsibility to lead public debate and action towards a sustainable future.

The Sustainability Charter also provides the principles and values that inform tangible commitments outlined in the Sustainability Plan..

18 March 2016

Our Campus in the 21st Century

Our Campus in the 21st century (OC21) was developed by the University community in a series of workshops that explored the qualities wanted across all campuses and precincts. It is the formal response to the University of Melbourne’s strategic plan Growing Esteem and is integral to how the University will plan for the future, and to developing high-quality campus-based experiences for diverse communities.

The Sustainability Plan 2017-2020 will support our campus in the 21st century through the following:

Synergy and Innovation

With increasing challenges of the 21st century, the Sustainability Plan will ensure we remain at the heart of synergy & innovation as a public-spirited thought-leader in the community. This must not just be reflected in our research and curriculum but throughout all activity areas of the University of Melbourne.

Through the implementation of the Plan, the University of Melbourne will be an even greater exemplar and leader in sustainability.

A Culture of Inclusion

The Sustainability Plan will include all of the community's opinions with the Plan being designed and consulted in collaboration with students, staff, alumni and the wider community.

Public forums on what the Plan is and investments have been held in May and August 2016 respectively. There are also working groups for the consultation with staff and student representation on each of the activity areas: Research, Governance, Teaching & Learning, Engagement and Operations.