Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s sustainability leadership recognised

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s leadership in the area of sustainability is reflected in its ranking among the top 40 universities in the world for the social impact of universities and their commitment to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals.

The Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2020 measure how more than 750 universities worldwide are contributing to the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), which cover areas such as health and wellbeing, reducing inequality, climate action, clean energy, protecting ecosystems, and peace and justice.

The University is ranked 36th overall and is among the top 10 Australasian universities as well as being 11th among participating universities for its contribution to and performance towards achieving two of the SDGs, covering Affordable and Clean Energy, and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

The SDGs were adopted by UN member nations in 2015 and set a 15-year agenda and call to action for all countries to end poverty, fight inequalities, and build peaceful, just and sustainable societies by 2030.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford says the results reflect the University’s commitment to sustainability and making a positive social impact through its research, teaching and knowledge transfer.

The THE rankings for 2020 covered all 17 SDGs and the University was ranked 11th for the Affordable and Clean Energy goal and 11th equal for the Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions goal.

The University submitted information about its performance in six of the SDGs and also performed well in Gender Equality, where it is ranked 30th, Partnership for the Goals, at 47th equal, and Sustainable Cities and Communities, with a ranking of 63rd equal.

The University has achieved outstanding results in energy management practices, improving its energy efficiency by over 30 percent since 2007. These gains were recognised in 2018 when the University received an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) Business Award for its efforts to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste.

The University’s Sustainable Energy Systems group in the School of Engineering and Computer Science supports the transition of the energy sector in New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region. The School hosts the Chair in Sustainable Energy Systems, currently held by Professor Alan Brent, and students are able to major in Renewable Energy Systems.

The University’s Wellington School of Architecture is an international leader in the study of energy- and resource-efficient systems for the built environment. The Building Science programme equips students with the practical and theoretical knowledge to design buildings that are efficient, sustainable and safe, and to contribute to a more sustainable world.

Other achievements include becoming, in 2017, the first New Zealand university to announce it would divest from fossil fuel extraction.

Also notable is the University’s collaboration with Wellington City Council to deliver ClimathonNZ each year, which is part of a global series of events involving a 24-hour challenge to create climate change solutions.

Being ranked 11th equal in the world in the area of Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions reflects the University’s work over many years with central and local government to help with good policy-decision making, our involvement of community stakeholders in informing our own governance, and our contribution to training and upskilling policy and law makers.

As a capital city university, and home to New Zealand’s only School of Government, offering a wide range of programmes in public policy and public management, the University makes a significant contribution to law making and public policy development.

Andrew Wilks, the University’s Director of Sustainability, says: “Te Herenga Waka has been championing a sustainable future for many years through our teaching, research, community engagement and operations. The THE impact ranking has captured some of our contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals and highlighted the global leadership demonstrated by New Zealand universities.”

More information about the University’s commitment to sustainability is available online.