University of Adelaide-planting the seed for a sustainable society

At a time when businesses are under constant pressure to view their operations and impacts through the lens of sustainability, universities can play a significant role in forging the path to a sustainable future.Frequently regarded as well-established and respected organisations,universities have a unique and influential role to play in the quest for a more sustainable future. Universities act as a microcosm of the city and therefore can act as a real world laboratory with the purpose of addressing sustainability issues. Within the context of topics such as resource utilisation in food production and consumption and encouraging voluntary action in reducing waste and energy useage, universities are the best place to devise and test new initiatives to improve sustainability.     An institution’s efforts alone  mean nothing if they are unable to share their learning, experiences, successes and areas with local leaders and partners in general. This learning is of great value to the society and the environment.

The City of Adelaide is on a mission to be the first carbon neutral city by 2050. This cannot be achieved without the participation of institutions that prepare the next generation of society’s leaders for a sustainable future . Therefore it was a very pleasant news to learn that University of Adelaide, a respectable name in the research, innovation and creative thinking, has structured an initiative in sustainability by launching Campus Sustainability Program. University of Adelaide is a world class research-intensive institute which can create sustainability focused research opportunities and help engage students from multiple disciplines – like engineering, business, political science, humanities to promote sustainability at the campus and in the community, in general. The document highlights the university’s commitment to a sustainable future by collaborating with students, faculty, administrators working across the departments to create a road map to a sustainable campus.

What I find inspiring about their approach is that that they  leverage an engaged and vibrant student community, supported by an equally engaged employees community who think about sustainability holistically. By incorporating all three elements of  Triple Bottom Line i.e environment, economy, and society, they have devised some successful programs like ‘Ecoversity‘, ‘Green Project Fund’ in the past that have celebrated great success in engaging campus community and can boast of key achievements like 176% increase in recycling across all University campuses since 2011.

The present document  revolves around 3 elements :   Campus Transformation, Collaboration and Inspiration. The strategic plan will be achieved through 31 sustainability initiatives, grouped into five streams of work: Carbon Reduction, Water Efficiency, Engagement Activities, training and Skills and Investment and Purchasing. Investing  in these five areas will not only help the campus transform into a sustainable campus but they will also help the City of Adelaide transformation to a Carbon Neutral Adelaide. These strategies align with Carbon Neutral Adelaide initiative and it is expected will help not only advancing sustainability through the broader economy but also embed in the campus life and most importantly help students align their academic pursuits with sustainability so that they become socially and ecologically aware responsible citizens.

 

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