Environmental and Sustainability Policy Statement

Updated on 13 February 2023

The purpose of this statement is to set out plainly and simply the University's commitment to sustainable development and effective environmental stewardship

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The University's commitment to sustainable development and effective environmental stewardship is integral to its social purpose and determination to making a difference, as stated in the University Strategy 2022-27.  As a “triple intensity” University, we are striving to contribute to a more sustainable future, locally and globally, through our education mission, impactful research and engagement and enterprise activities. 

Central to everything we do must be regard for the environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainability, and the overriding need for ecological sustainability on which all else depends.  This Policy Statement sets out the University’s broad objectives in relation to environmental matters and is supported by further detailed policies and plans (see Appendix).  Co-development and co-ownership with our students are fundamental to our success.  We must also ensure that we have due regard for equality, diversity, and inclusion and that policies and actions designed to address one issue, e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, do not have undesirable consequences in other areas.

The Policy Statement and progress towards meeting its objectives will be reviewed annually by the University Executive Group, receiving reports from the University’s Carbon Board, chaired by the Principal.  The annual reporting required under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 will be supplemented by further annual reports on key issues related to the Policy Statement and supporting policies. In relation to both specific issues and wider environmental management plans, any external commitments, pledges and accreditation schemes will be considered and adopted where they add value in helping to focus, enhance and monitor our efforts to achieve the objectives set out here.

Awareness and Governance

Concern for sustainability issues is a matter of both individual and collective responsibility within the University and must be explicitly acknowledged and accounted for at all levels of management and operation.  The University is committed to:

  • raising performance across three priority academic themes of “sustainability and net zero”, “population health and wealth” and “equity and inclusion”
  • using resources efficiently to minimise our impact on the environment
  • complying with all relevant legislation and regulations
  • raising awareness within the University community about sustainability issues and securing the well-being of staff and students
  • embedding sustainability into the design and operation of all our activities
  • engaging with the wider community to raise awareness of sustainability and contributing to ways of creating a more sustainable society, locally and globally.

Overall responsibility lies with the University Court as the governing body of the University, the University Executive Group, and the Carbon Board, which has been established to ensure progress towards a more sustainable future.

Net Zero

The University is committed to achieving Net Zero carbon emissions no later than 2045 and will develop and implement plans to ensure that this can be achieved as early as practicable.  Emissions will be reduced as far as possible and where any offsetting arrangements are adopted as a last resort, they must pass a thorough examination in terms of their effectiveness, long-term security, and overall impacts for biodiversity and sustainable development.  The needs to adapt to the changing climate and to build resilience in the face of such changes are central to all future plans.


We will develop and expand education for sustainability within the curriculum, with regard to both the content and manner of delivery.  All students will be empowered with the skills and knowledge to contribute to a sustainable future. 


We will build on our areas of research strength to tackle the pressing problems facing the world, with a global and local focus that includes health and wellbeing, sustainability, and the just transition. This work will seek innovative and practical solutions and be developed in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.  Our research activity will be undertaken with regard to the need to ensure more sustainable ways of working, including achieving reductions in the consumption of energy, water, and raw materials.


We will develop and maintain our campuses in a sustainable way, with particular regard to energy and water efficiency, biodiversity, waste and life cycle costs and impacts.  This requires assessment of what we do on campus and how we do it, adopting a whole life strategy for the built environment, including furnishings and equipment, with consideration of “cradle to cradle” circular economy principles wherever possible.  Legal obligations (e.g. under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009) and policy targets (e.g. under Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan) will form key elements of our approach.  Properties that are controlled by others, at Ninewells and in Kirkcaldy, as well as student accommodation, managed by Dundee Student Villages, and the Students’ Association building stand outside this policy, although we will work collaboratively with partners to influence and deliver change.


We will develop and implement an integrated green travel policy, that promotes and supports active travel and those methods with least environmental impact and also considers reducing the need for staff and students to travel, drawing on digital solutions.


We will adopt clear and effective sustainable procurement policies, promoting the circular economy and considering all stages of the supply chain and life cycle.  This will include sustainable food and Fair Trade policies.

Investment and Finance

We will not knowingly invest in companies whose activities are in direct conflict with the values that the University publicly espouses and when investing its funds regard will be had to social, environmental, sustainability and governance issues.  The Ethical Investment Policy sets out the restrictions that should accordingly be applied and the University endeavours to ensure that any third party Fund Manager follows the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment and meets the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010.


In order to reduce the University’s impact on the environment and enhance its contribution to sustainable development we will consider all aspects of what we do and how we do it.  Sustainability is not the responsibility of named officers, units or committees, but of all staff and students.  New ways of working in the long and short term must be explored and adopted to operate more sustainably, placing reduced demand on natural resources, using resources efficiently, promoting the circular economy and enhancing biodiversity on campus and beyond. 

Appendix - Detailed policies and structures

Policies and structures will continue to develop in the coming years.

More detailed policies on the issues covered here, and those initially responsible, include:

Policy Responsible group
Net Zero Climate Action Group
Travel Sustainable Travel  sub-group
Procurement    Procurement and Supply Chain sub-group
Ethical Investment Investment and Financing sub-group
Waste Carbon Smart Campus/ Environmental Sustainability sub-groups
Heating and Cooling  Carbon Smart Campus sub-group
Fair Trade Procurement and Supply Chain sub-group
Sustainable Food Procurement and Supply Chain sub-group
Learning & Teaching (inc. Curriculum Design) Education sub-group

The Climate Action Group, with various sub-groups (below), has been established to ensure that progress continues to be made:

  • Education
  • Research
  • Carbon Smart Campus
  • Procurement and Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Travel
  • Investment and Financing
  • Biodiversity
  • Environmental Sustainability Task Group