A new report into Auckland University of Technology’s (AUT) progress on its key sustainability priorities and objectives has found the university is on track to meet a range of critical targets across its teaching, research and operations.
The AUT Sustainability Report 2021 found that the actions taken by AUT over the past year – as well as the significant impact of COVID-related shutdowns – has resulted in the university making genuine progress in its commitment to shape a more sustainable world.
The report, which assesses the university’s progress against the ambitions of the AUT Sustainability Roadmap and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, found that during 2021 AUT:
- Increased the percentage of research publications that relate to one or more SDGs;
- Expanded the number of sustainability-focused courses offered from 67 in 2020 to 79 in 2021;
- Decreased CO2eemissions on the 2018 baseline by 55%, driven by effects of the pandemic such as campus shutdowns, as well as new energy efficiency projects;
- Reduced mains water by 20%, also largely a result of campus shutdowns.
Chair of the AUT Sustainability Steering Group, Dr David Hall says that while the progress deserves to be celebrated, it was vital the university now maintains its momentum in a post-COVID world.
“We can’t ignore that many of the reductions relate to the effects of COVID, such as campus shutdowns, as well as energy efficiency improvements. The challenge now is to ensure we maintain this momentum,” says Dr Hall.
“As we navigate the long tail of the pandemic, the challenge for years ahead is to avoid a complete rebound to high-emissions, pre-pandemic habits.
“We need to ‘build back better’, to futureproof our community by aligning with the global race to net-zero.
“Not only can AUT be a leader, but we can flourish by doing so. Our strengths as a university of technology are needed more than ever,” he said.
Among the key targets of the report are ensuring all undergraduate programmes develop sustainability literacy, values and practices, increasing the number of peer reviewed SDG research outputs, and halving CO2e emissions by 2025.
AUT Director of Sustainability, Lucy McKenzie says the report found the actions taken by AUT over the past year through its teaching, research, and operations has resulted in the university making progress towards meeting its 2025 targets.
“As one of New Zealand’s largest universities we have not just an obligation, but the ability, to be a leader in creating positive change,” Ms McKenzie says.
“We have set a range of ambitious targets that reflect the critical importance of this issue, and it is fantastic that this report has found we are on the right path to creating a more sustainable future.”