Sustainability, Policy on

Sustainability, Policy on

Legislative History:

Reviewed by President and Vice-Presidents, February 16, 2011; Approved by the Board of Governors, April 25, 2011

Approval Authority: Board of Governors

Signature: Paul Cantor

Description: Describes the University’s responsibility for and commitment to sustainability, and provides the framework for ongoing implementation of the policy and assists the University Community in incorporating Sustainability into decision making.

I. Definitions

Talloires Declaration: Composed in 1990 at an international conference in Talloires, France, this is the first official statement made by university administrators of a commitment to environmental sustainability in higher education. The Talloires Declaration is a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. It has been signed by hundreds of university presidents and chancellors from around the world. York University signed the declaration in 2002.

II. Policy

  1. In keeping with its subscription to the Talloires Declaration, York will work towards being a sustainable university. A sustainable university is one that enhances the ecological functioning of its campuses; models knowledgeable, active and responsible global citizens; and does so within an integrated, long-term framework of full-cost economic and environmental accounting. Features of a sustainable university include a long-term perspective, a holistic outlook, acceptance of limits, focus on place and active involvement in problem-solving.
  2. York will bring vision, scholarship and high ethical standards to achieving and maintaining institutional leadership in sustainable operations and community engagement.
  3. Progress will be monitored, and measurable goals will be explored and adopted where feasible.
    1. York will draw upon the abilities and expertise of the university community to promote practices that maximize the beneficial effects and minimize the harmful impacts that may arise out of its operational, academic and research activities.
    2. Priority will be given to identifying ways of improving the long-term quality and regenerative capacity of the environmental, social and economic systems that support the University’s activities and needs.
  1. York will strive to be at the forefront of sustainability research and education and will use its capacity and expertise to promote sustainability within and beyond the University, with its alumni, governments and the surrounding communities.
    1. York will encourage the active engagement of all members of the university community in issues of sustainability and will support sustainability awareness in the greater community.
    2. Priority will be given to developing opportunities to collaborate on sustainability initiatives among students, academic and administrative units across and beyond the University.

III. Review

This policy shall be reviewed in two years.

IV. Responsibility

  1. The Board of Governors and all York faculty, students and staff members are responsible for acting in a manner that promote and support the objectives of this policy.
  2. Each of the President and Vice-Presidents will be responsible for advancing sustainability within their respective areas. Each Division will include a reflection of their commitment to sustainability in their annual integrated resource plans.
  3. The President’s Sustainability Council is an advisory body to the President with responsibility for providing input and recommendations on how to advance York University’s sustainability initiatives, projects, and practices that are align with this policy. It serves as a pan-university forum to ensure that the different dimensions of sustainability are integrated into strategies for a York-specific approach to sustainability.