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Source: University of Canterbury

26 October 2021

The University of Canterbury has appointed Professor Jan Evans-Freeman to the newly created role of Pro-Vice Chancellor of Sustainability, to deliver the environmental sustainability goals of the university’s Strategic Vision 2020-2030.

The goals include being carbon net neutral by 2030 and significantly raising awareness of sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across all aspects of university life.

Professor Evans-Freeman previously served as Pro-Vice Chancellor of Engineering at the University of Canterbury and is excited to be taking up this new challenge. “Operating in a more sustainable way is a critical issue facing all of society, and is strongly supported by our staff and our students, who are increasingly concerned about how Universities are taking action and leading on climate change and other urgent sustainability matters.”

The appointment of a Pro-Vice Chancellor Sustainability tops a year of sustainability action at the University of Canterbury and is believed to be the highest appointment in sustainability in the tertiary sector of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Activities across the university were recently aligned to each of the SDGs and captured in the university’s first SDG update, available here.  The update shows some 100 examples of research breakthroughs, awards, initiatives to support diversity and equality on campus, and of course developments in education, such as new programmes, that all contribute to a more sustainable world.

In an exemplar model of engagement with communities, the University of Canterbury recently hosted the 2020-2021 Aotearoa SDG Summit Series, with Lincoln University, Ara Institute of Canterbury, Christchurch City Council and other partners. The series drew over 900 participants and 83 speakers from the research, community, business and government sectors during three online hui and an online summit, which resulted in an SDG Summit Declaration, signed by almost 200 organisations, a national SDG Alliance and 75 video recordings of sessions that are available to the public online here.

Looking forward, the university has announced new programmes including a Bachelor of Social and Environmental Sustainability ready for 2022. This is Aotearoa New Zealand’s only undergraduate degree in multidisciplinary sustainability and it will empower students to understand how to advance social, ecological, cultural and economic sustainability, as well as the barriers and pathways for creating societal wellbeing and a sustainable, low-carbon future.

The University of Canterbury also offers degrees in Youth and Community Leadership, Environmental Science and Forestry, and sustainability-focused minors across business, science, and engineering. Postgraduate qualifications are available in Transition Engineering, Disaster Risk and Resilience, Urban Resilience, Renewable Energy, Global Humanitarian Engineering and more.   

The University’s sustainability-related research is world-leading, particularly in microplastics, green hydrogen, biofilters, the impacts of climate change in the Pacific and much more – see Sustainable Futures at the University of Canterbury.  

A major development to support reaching carbon net neutrality in 2030 is the project to replace the coal boilers that heat the large buildings on campus with a biomass boiler. In the longer term this will then be replaced with multiple Ground Source Heat Pumps which use the latent warmth of the earth for heat.

The University of Canterbury is a Fair Trade campus, runs a community garden that is coming up to its 20th anniversary and actively encourages alternatives to driving a car to campus.

Read more about sustainability at the University of Canterbury here.

The Strategic Vision for Sustainability

The goals of the university’s Strategic Vision 2020-2030 include:

  • Establish a carbon neutrality initiative to ensure that UC will be carbon net neutral by 2030.
  • Ensure that UC research contributes to resolving global sustainability challenges.
  • Weave opportunities for students to learn and contribute to resolving the Sustainable Development Goals through UC teaching.
  • Measurably and substantially improve the environmental sustainability of UC
  • Grow and leverage our local, national and global sustainability networks to bring new thinking to our challenge and to share our practice