Sustainable Development Goals 2030

Western : A World Leader


The University’s commitment to sustainable development, assessed through its contribution to the United Nations 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was recognised by the new Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Ranking ranked 1st overall in the world in

Reimagine Western

There have been many words to describe the last few years: unprecedented; extraordinary and challenging. It has been a period of many difficulties but it has also been a period of determination, resilience and achievement made possible by a University committed to its Western Sydney community. Our sustainability commitments remain more relevant and urgent than ever. Western remains committed to delivering action on social justice, inclusive education, addressing inequality, environmental stewardship and fostering the next generation of thoughtful leaders and civic-minded citizens who can solve the complex global challenges of the world.

Our seventh annual sustainability report "Reimagining Western" highlights how we have and will continue to move forward with meaningful impact for this vital work across our CORE (Curriculum, Operations, Research and Engagement) framework.

Western Sydney University is recognised as 1st in the world overall under
the 2022 Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings and
recognises our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The University has also been ranked in the top ten Universities in the world against the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognising our sector leading social and ecological sustainability focus:

  • 1st in world for SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 2nd in world for SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 3rd in world for SDG5: Gender Equality
  • 4th in World for SDG10: Reduced Inequalities
  • 5th in world for SDG17: Partnership for the Goals     
  • 9th in world for SDG14: Life below Water
  • 10th in world for SDG15: Life on Land

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all 194 United Nations Member States in 2015, identifies 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries in a global partnership. The framework is valuable for tertiary education institutions because it empowers universities to frame strategies and action plans that address complex challenges related to poverty, inequality, health, production and consumption of resources and climate change. Western’s Curriculum, Operations, Research and Engagement (CORE) focus have alignment with the SDGs.

Western Sydney University's Commitment to the SDGs

In 2017 Western signed the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Higher Education Commitment joining an innovative group of Australian and New Zealand universities. Our University has acknowledged the responsibility ‘through their teaching to equip the next generation of leaders, innovators and thinkers to understand the global challenges facing the world and the role they can play in rising to meet these challenges’.

In becoming an educational signatory to the SDSN Initiative the University has committed to support and promote the principles of the SDGs:

  • Undertake research that provides solutions to sustainable development challenges;
  • Provide the educational opportunity for our students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development;
  • Contribute to the achievement of the SDGs by ensuring our campuses and major programs are environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive, and
  • Report on our activities in support of the SDGs.

Sustainability and Resilience 2030 Decadal Strategy

Sustainability and Resilience 2030 is a call to come together as a community around key aspirations that frame a vision for just transitions to sustainable ways of living that leave no one behind. It asks us all to proactively recognise and reimagine the interdependence of life, starting within our region Greater Western Sydney, and also to recognise the contribution that we have in a wider global context. It asks us to reimagine the transitions that are urgently needed to tackle the challenges of the 21st century that are so profoundly redefining human social life. Our Nine Interconnected Priority Statements have been developed to focus our actions for the decade to 2030, as both a challenge and an opportunity for the University.

A 21st century curriculum for a changing world

The 21C Project reflects our commitment as an anchor institution for the communities of Western Sydney and our recognised national and international leadership in relation to championing just and responsible social change through the United Nations SDGs.

Research with Impact

The University is committed to collaboration with our local, regional, national and international communities to contribute to their economic, social and environmental wellbeing. Our research at Western spans four interdisciplinary themes aligned with internationally recognised strengths, National Research Priorities and the future of Western Sydney:

  • Education and work: SDG 4 
  • Environment and sustainability: SDG 13, 14, 15 
  • Health and wellbeing: SDG 3 
  • Urban living futures and society: SDG 11, 12 

Environmental Sustainability

Western Sydney University has a clear obligation to plan and implement actions for a more sustainable future. The Environmental Sustainability team, situated in the Office of Estate and Commercial at Western, seeks to develop practical and collaborative actions to emerging issues such as climate change and social responsibility. Progress in relation to organisational commitments and expectations, mitigation of environmental risks, and ensuring environmental compliance are all part of the business of environmental sustainability.

Local and Global Networks

Hosted by Western Sydney University, RCE Greater Western Sydney (RCE-GWS), formally acknowledged by the United Nations University, is focused on Education for Sustainable Development and the SDGs within our local and
global regions. Our partners, who include the region’s educational institutions, organisations, businesses, community groups and local government, work together on tackling our region’s biggest sustainability challenges. Western is one 1 of 170 recognised RCEs globally and has strong links with the Asia-Pacific.

The global RCE network is coordinated and delivered through the United Nations University and aspires to achieve the goals of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005 - 2014). The Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is the follow-up to the DESD which seeks to generate and scale up concrete actions in ESD. The focus is now to contribute to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the SDGs.