New Zealand and Australian Universities Top Global Sustainability Rankings


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Universities in New Zealand and Australia dominated the 2020 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. The London-based rankings evaluate how universities worldwide perform based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN SDGs are composed of 17 goals, including quality education (SDG 4) and climate action (SDG 13). To get in the rankings, universities provide evidence of their compliance with the SDGs. This year, more than 700 universities from over 80 countries made it in the rankings. The University of Auckland in New Zealand ranked first for the second consecutive year. It excelled in good health and well-being (SDG 3), life below water (SDG 14), and life on land (SDG 15). Life below water refers to marine life protection, while life on land refers to protection of land resources. Scores for these SDGs were added to the university’s points for SDG 17, which focuses on partnerships for sustainable development and accounts for 22% of the overall score. Joining the University of Auckland in the top are the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, and La Trobe University, all based in Australia. Australia’s National Sustainable Development Council chair John Thwaites said that New Zealand and Australia have a strong global perspective. According to him, addressing the UN goals has become a collaborative commitment of universities, businesses, and communities in New Zealand, Australia, and other neighboring countries. Thwaites believes that other universities worldwide could learn from New Zealand and Australia about global partnerships, which have been instrumental in the success of universities in these two countries.

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