University of Sydney launches Sustainable Investment Strategy

We will increase investment in sustainable solutions and exclude fossil fuel companies with inadequate transition plans from investments, building on our significant progress to date.

The University’s Sustainable Investment Strategy 2030 forms part of our broader commitment to climate action and our vision to create a more sustainable future.

Building on progress made over several years to decarbonise our share portfolio, the University will continue working with our portfolio managers to align their investment practices with our goals under the updated strategy, and seek to influence the higher education sector and society more broadly to improve sustainable investment strategies.

We will also increase our investments in sustainable solutions, and divest from fossil-fuel-related companies that demonstrate no commitment to a low-carbon transition.

"Our Sustainability Strategy recognises that our research and education, our operations and our governance all have a role to play in ensuring the University supports a future that is more environmentally, socially and financially sustainable," said Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Stephen Garton AM.

"Our investments form part of our operations and play a key role in supporting our research and education."

We also recognise our obligation to ensure our investments work as hard as possible to create a sustainable future balanced with our responsibilities as a capital manager.

In addition to enhancing our investment strategies to tackle climate change, we will continue to consider the impact of our investments on Indigenous rights, first introduced into our investment policy in 2017. We will also continue to scrutinise our portfolio and work with other investors to meet our commitments on modern slavery announced earlier this year; while not currently aware of any such issues in our listed investments, we expect to have a very high degree of confidence by 2030 through this process.

Since 2014, when we first started measuring the carbon footprint of our investments as part of our environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment framework, we have reduced the carbon intensity and absolute emissions of our listed equity portfolio by 70 percent and 79 percent respectively (as of 30 September 2020).

Effective engagement key to new approach

"Putting pressure on companies to transition to a low-carbon future can drive rapid change, as we are increasingly seeing around the world, and we will invest in companies that are demonstrably transitioning," the Vice-Chancellor said.

"We will add the University’s name and institutional influence to major investor groups, placing collective pressure on companies and policymakers to deliver a more sustainable future through better investment policy, strategy, incentives and reporting structures.

"We will also work with our investment managers to divest from companies that are not making determined progress to transition to a low-carbon economy, and have set targets to do this transparently over the next five years."

Our targets and milestones

The actions and targets in the strategy will enable the University to meet our overall goal: to ensure its portfolio is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and Net Zero by 2050, making it among the first universities globally to make such a commitment.

The new strategy provides an initial roadmap with underlying targets and milestones, which will be further refined. By the end of 2021, the University will have established and communicated clear milestones and methodologies to assess our performance, using carbon transition methodology based on the Transition Pathway Initiative , a global initiative driven by the London School of Economics (LSE).

Australia’s first university has joined a growing body of institutions highlighting the importance of sustainability and committed to ambitious new targets as part of its new sustainability strategy and climate statement. 

University continues to excel in 2021 Times Higher Education Impact rankings which measure an institution’s research, outreach and stewardship against UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Today the University of Sydney launched One Sydney, Many People with the aim of creating a sense of belonging and demonstrating visible leadership and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and culture. Coinciding with the launch was the opening of the new dedicated student centre, The Gadigal Centre.


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