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Sustainability Network Outstanding

Sustainability Network Outstanding

New Zealand’s sustainability network for tertiary education is outstanding in the international context, according to an Australian tertiary sustainability expert.

At a recent forum for sustainable practice in New Zealand’s tertiary sector, the President of Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS), Leanne Denby, said the tertiary sustainability network in New Zealand was to be admired.

“I only know of two other networks that work as well - one in Victoria and one in Scotland,” she told the recent forum. “You should all be so proud of your ability to share and support each other.”

Ms Denby is also Director of Sustainability at Macquarie University in Sydney and was a keynote speaker at the forum.

The aim of the forum was to enhance and extend the community of practice around sustainability in the tertiary education sector in New Zealand.

The community is made up of professional staff members responsible for facilitating sustainability and environmental performance improvement in their universities or technical institutes.

“We have a core group of about 15 people who already meet monthly via desktop conferencing, but we felt we would get an additional boost from an intensive session to which we could also invite other staff members who have significant, associated roles,” says the Manager of Sustainability and Environment at the University of Auckland, Dr Lesley Stone. “We wanted to encourage them to contribute to our discussions and to recognise that they are an important part of what we achieve collectively.”

“We are very pleased to have been joined by staff members from a number of institutions with roles in senior management, procurement, energy, waste, events and engagement,” says Dr Stone. “We all work in large institutions where team work and collective responsibility are essential for sustainability to be achieved, so we really appreciate the enthusiasm and thoughtful contributions of colleagues with critical roles to play. We can already see the benefits of their involvement in the forum.”

The forum also gained good feedback from participants who appreciated the opportunity to share and learn from others’ experiences, build connections with other individuals in similar situations, and work collaboratively to support each other.

The format for the workshops was also highly rated, each starting with a short, sharp case study to provoke discussion, followed by a SWOT analysis and brainstorming to identify opportunities for improvement across the other institutions.

“This is where really good practice was being shared as a catalyst for discussion about what organisations were doing and what could be done,” says Dr Stone. “And it was fantastic to hear about others’ achievements in specific topics that are of common interest.”

The workshops produced lots of practical ideas for participants to take forward on each theme, and these will also be picked up and worked on in the regular network meetings.
The workshops covered:

• Monitoring, measuring and reporting progress to enhance uptake and commitment
• Life cycle costing for sustainability and incorporating it into decision making for facilities and buildings
• Sustainable procurement – influencing procurement practices and processes for products and services
• Sustainable events and catering – using events to model sustainable practices, and
• Curriculum research and operations – opportunities for integrating academic programmes and operational challenges

ENDS

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