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University of Auckland takes top spot in sustainability rankings

29 Apr 2020

The University of Auckland has taken the top spot in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, which analyses how universities measure up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

Originally launched in 2019, the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings aim to highlight the work that universities are doing with their communities. Work can include equitable education, gender equality, and environmental sustainability.

The rankings use the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include gender equality; quality education; sustainable cities and communities; industry, innovation, and infrastructure, as well as many others.

The University of Auckland was first among the 850 institutions from 89 countries that participated.

The university was ranked in the top 25% for each of the Goals with which it engaged. Its top four areas were Goal 14, Life Below Water (2nd), Goal 15, Life on Land (3rd=), Goal 3, Good Health and Wellbeing (4th), and Goal 17 (3rd). This last – Partnership for the Goals – is the only mandatory qualifying SDG; among other things, the University of Auckland is an Institutional member of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the UN Programme for Human Settlements.

According to the University of Auckland’s vice-chancellor professor Dawn Freshwater, “The Impact Rankings’ focus on sustainability has become even more relevant as we consider what a post-COVID world might look like, and how this enforced ‘pause’ might be used as an opportunity to reshape economies in more sustainable ways.”

She says the number one ranking reflects highly on all staff at the University of Auckland.

“There is a growing call for countries to use this crisis to radically rethink economic and social models. This includes concerns about increasing reliance on fragile global supply chains, dependence on single countries for essential manufacturing, precarious health systems, and placing too much emphasis on economic growth that puts unsustainable pressure on the environment,” she adds.

“Against this backdrop, the focus of the SDGs on ‘sustainability’ in its broadest sense has become even more important and relevant. The Impact Rankings demonstrate how universities like Auckland can play a key role in thought leadership, in germane research, and in sustainable operations.”

The University of Auckland will look towards the post-COVID world alongside its stakeholders and communities.

“In these and other areas the University recognises the importance and value of kaitiakitanga and mātauranga Māori in shaping a unique and distinctive approach to sustainability in this country,” concludes Freshwater.