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Environmental Sustainability Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) This Environmental Sustainability Policy addresses legislative compliance in relation to campus operations, duty of care for protection from environmental hazards, as well as emerging needs for climate action, respect for indigenous connections to Country, and campus based Living Labs for teaching, research, and engagement.

(2) Western Sydney University (University) is subject to and must comply with all Commonwealth and State environmental legislation, including but not limited to, those relating to environmental planning, land and water management, biodiversity conservation, waste and circular economy, pollution control, greenhouse gas reporting, biosecurity, and natural disaster response. These include:

  1. Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW);
  2. Biosecurity Act 2015 (NSW);
  3. Biosecurity Regulation 2017 (NSW);
  4. Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (NSW);
  5. Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW);
  6. Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth);
  7. Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 (Cth);
  8. Local Land Services Act 2013 (NSW);
  9. National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (Cth);
  10. National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NSW);
  11. Ozone Protection Act 1989 (NSW);
  12. Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (Cth);
  13. Pesticides Act 1999 (NSW);
  14. Pesticides Regulation 2017 (NSW);
  15. Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021 (NSW);
  16. Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW);
  17. Rural Fires Act 1997 (NSW);
  18. Soil Conservation Act 1938 (NSW);
  19. Water Act 1912 (NSW);
  20. Water Management Act 2000 (NSW);
  21. Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 (NSW).

(3) The University has a duty of care to provide a safe environment for its community, by providing protection from potential environmental hazards.

(4) Along with local and regional issues of environmental integrity, the international agenda of sustainable development and global issues such as climate change have led to a recognised need for broader operational sustainability targets. These include carbon neutrality and reductions in our ecological footprint, underpinning transition towards being a low carbon organization, and our aspirational commitments to be Climate Positive by 2029.

(5) The University is a national and international signatory to the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Higher Education Commitment, the UN-led “Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges” and the Talloires Declaration.

(6) The University recognises and commits to the United Nations, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2008, regarding sustainable and equitable development, management of the environment, and the right to the conservation and protection of the environment.  Also in the University's endorsement of The Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Western Sydney University Indigenous Strategy 2020 - 2025, the University will recognise, acknowledge, support, and engage with local Aboriginal Knowledges and custodians to Care for Country on which universities campuses and activities may take place.

(7) This policy promotes the utilisation of natural and built assets across the campus network as ‘living lab’ resources for teaching, research and engagement.

(8) This policy:

  1. aligns environmental sustainability initiatives with broader sustainability commitments and strategic plans, and
  2. outlines a clear framework of business improvement through the Environmental Sustainability Action Plan.

(9) The University expects its staff, students and visitors to comply with the principles of this policy and to support fulfilment of the University's stated environmental sustainability objectives. To this end staff, students and visitors are expected to familiarise themselves with, and support, the efficient implementation of this Policy, and to take appropriate action to ensure that their activities are carried out in an environmentally sustainable manner.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(10) For the purposes of this policy:

  1. Environmental Sustainability means enacting conscious practices, behaviours and management which seek to engage with environmental landscapes within the capacity of our ecosystems’ ability to regenerate, avoid compromising future opportunities, mitigate and adapt to man-made pressures such as climate change, and enhance social ecological resilience.
  2. Environmental Sustainability Action Plan (ESAP) means a framework that assists the organisation to identify and manage operational issues of environmental sustainability in a structured manner through the allocation of resources, assignment of responsibilities and ongoing assessment and improvement of practices, procedures and processes.
  3. SDG means a Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  4. SDSN means the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
  5. Living Labs mean a focus of collaborative problem-solving in a living social environment, with stakeholders involved in a process of co-construction.  Sustainability dimensions of campus assets are investigated through multidisciplinary and strategic perspectives, as part of teaching, research and engagement activities.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(11) The University will manage environmental risks and its legal obligations by conducting its activities in a way that not only protects, enhances and regenerates the environment, but also protects the University's reputation, image and future standing.

(12) The University will plan and implement actions for a more sustainable future and lead environmental sustainability in the Western Sydney region.

(13) The University will meet its ethical and legal responsibilities to a sustainable environment, including its campuses, staff, students and communities by:

  1. protecting the environment
  2. enhancing the environmental sustainability of its operations and campuses
  3. continually improving the natural, built and social campus environments
  4. enhancing climate resilience of campuses and related communities
  5. recognising and protecting Aboriginal peoples ongoing connections to Country

(14) To fulfil this commitment, the University will:

  1. promote awareness and understanding of, and responsibility for, environmental sustainability both within the University and the community
  2. implement a University-wide Environmental Sustainability Action Plan that allows significant environmental sustainability operational strategies to be identified and managed while also fostering implementation of environmentally responsible practices on all campuses
  3. set targets for those strategies and activities which significantly affect environmental sustainability outcomes, and measure performance against those targets over time
  4. refine practices and procedures to align with strategies and targets
  5. communicate environmental sustainability performance both within the University and the community
  6. ensure staff, students and visitors are informed and aware of their roles in implementing the Environmental Sustainability Action Plan
  7. engage with and visibly promote local Aboriginal Knowledges and sustainable practices related to land and water management, including Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property rights (protection), Indigenous ethics and protocols (management), and Indigenous Data Sovereignty (ongoing engagement)
  8. support the use of campus assets as living labs for teaching, research and engagement

(15) As an educational signatory to the SDSN Australia, New Zealand and Pacific University Commitment to the SDGs, the University will support and promote the principles of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by:

  1. recognising the enormous social, economic and environmental challenges facing the world
  2. recognising that future development must take place in a way that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable
  3. recognising that the SDGs establish an agenda for the achievement of sustainable development by 2030, and
  4. stressing the vitally important role that universities can play in achieving a sustainable future through teaching, research and operations

(16) Consistent with its commitment to the SDSN, the University will:

  1. support and promote the principles of the Sustainable Development Goals
  2. undertake research that provides solutions to sustainable development challenges
  3. provide educational opportunity for our students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development
  4. contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by ensuring our campuses and major programs are environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive
  5. report on its activities in support of the Sustainable Development Goals

(17) The University's operational environmental sustainability strategies will be aligned within its broader strategic frameworks, including the University's “Sustaining Success Strategic Plan 2021-2026” and the “Decadal Strategy, Sustainability and Resilience 2030”.

(18) Business improvement processes relating to issues of operational environmental sustainability will also operate within the broader context of the University's compliance and risk management processes.

(19) This Policy is supported by the implementation of the University's Environmental Sustainability Action Plan (ESAP), which assists the University's commitment to operational environmental sustainability and due diligence in relation to statutory requirements for environmental management. The ESAP outlines strategies, targets and initiatives relation to:

  1. climate action through mitigation and adaptation strategies
  2. renewable and locally generated energy consumption
  3. water recycling and reuse, and water sensitive urban design
  4. Green Star buildings, precincts and communities
  5. waste and plastics minimization, and circular economy opportunities
  6. biodiversity conservation and stewardship
  7. biosecurity and environmental health
  8. peri-urban landscapes and sustainable agriculture
  9. transitions to sustainable transport and travel
  10. demonstrating social and corporate responsibility

(20) Individuals and/or groups who participate in activities that contravene this policy or the governing legislation may find themselves subject to disciplinary and/or legal proceedings. Individuals should be aware that they can be personally pursued for crimes against the environment and those penalties for crimes against the environment include significant fines and/or incarceration.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(21) Actions to be taken in the event of an environmental emergency are outlined in Campus Safety and Security's Emergency Response Guidelines.

(22) Native fauna encounters on campus that present a risk to safety should be reported to Campus Safety and Security (refer to Animals on Campus Policy Part E).

(23) Actions for the management of non-indigenous animals and plants are outlined in the Invasive/Pest Management Action Plan and Weed Management Plan.

(24) Actions to be taken with regard to the use of pesticides in outdoor areas are outlined in the Pesticide Use Notification Plan.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(25) Further information about environmental management at the University can be obtained via the University's Environmental Sustainability Plans web page.