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 17th overall in the world in 2021.

The University is ranked in the top five worldwide for six of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Challenging Times 2020

There have been many words to describe the year of 2020: unprecedented; extraordinary and challenging were the ones most often used. It has been a year of many difficulties but it has also been a year of determination and achievements made possible by a University committed to its communities of Western Sydney. Our sustainability commitments are more relevant and urgent than ever.

Our sixth annual sustainability report "Challenging Times" highlights how we have and will continue to move forward with meaningful impact for this vital work across our C.O.R.E (Curriculum, Operations, Research and Engagement) framework.

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 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.

A 21st century curriculum for a changing world

Our 21C Curriculum builds on the University community’s work over the last two years to respond to the transformative opportunities and challenges of societal and workforce disruption. 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 Sustainable Development Goals.

World Hub for SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) network is an initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in supporting and contributing to the SDGs. Western Sydney University was the designated as a global hub from 2018 - 2021 for its international leadership in reducing inequalities (SDG 10).

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 4 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 Commerical 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 165 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 aspired 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 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).