Introduction - the Admin building on a sunny day

About the Strategy

President’s Message

I am pleased to introduce the University of Manitoba’s Sustainability Strategy 2019-2023. This strategy is a critical and necessary step to continue to drive the University’s commitment to being a sustainability leader while recognizing the urgent need to take action. By delivering world-class teaching, learning and research, we can take the steps to protect and rejuvenate our planet and ensure no one is left behind.

Working together, our campus community has successfully advanced sustainability in a number of key areas over the last three years:

Sustainability is continually integrated into the University through student and staff orientation and office programs, as well as initiatives related to Indigenous achievement, mental health and active living. As well, the University’s Strategic Research Plan includes research into building sustainable systems for resilient communities through Arctic system science and technology, human rights and social justice, and sustainable food systems that will continue our contribution to building global sustainability knowledge.

Looking ahead, the actions in the Sustainability Strategy 2019-2023 will see the creation of new opportunities to deliver social benefits for our community, encourage and maintain our position as a school and an employer of choice, and contribute to the sustainable financial management of the University. Actions like implementing an organic waste management program, creating a student sustainability ambassador program, minimizing our greenhouse gas emissions and managing our campus lands will provide both short- and long-term benefits to the University and its sustainability journey.

I would like to thank University community members for the partnerships, cooperation, creativity and dedication that have carried us this far, and to empower you all to be part of the next steps we take together.

David T. Barnard,
O.M., Ph.D., FRSC President and Vice-Chancellor

Message from Sustainability Committee Co-Chairs

Since the creation of the University of Manitoba’s first sustainability strategy in 2012, the Campus Sustainability Committee has worked to transform how we work, engage, act and play. We are pleased to now update our vision and action with the University’s third sustainability strategy. It is a pleasure to see the University continue to strengthen its commitment to sustainability and to truly become part of the sustainability movement that is happening in education, corporate boardrooms and governments around the world. At the U of M, this began with early student and staff efforts to reduce waste and energy use in the 1980s and 1990s, to now having an Office of Sustainability to help guide and support our collective action in many areas of sustainability. As a result, we continue to see gains in reducing our footprint, improving efficiencies and increasing awareness of the benefits of sustainability in our campus community.

Underscoring this community effort, the University recently achieved a STARS Gold rating, an improvement over our previous Silver rating. This rating demonstrates we have realized significant achievements in the areas of academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration, through the concerted efforts of numerous offices on campus and staff and students alike. We have seen initiatives come to fruition such as the campus waste audit, Sustainable Transportation Strategy, Pedestrian and Cycling Plan, Biodiversity Baseline Study and Assessment and tree inventory, all of which will help to guide us in integrating sustainability into future decision-making and action. We can also look to the incredible success of projects initiated by students and supported by faculty and staff on campus, such as the student composting initiatives, campus food gardens and green space assessment, as we build on success for the future.

The partnerships that have formed and catalyzed our successes are unique to the campus environment and make opportunities for advancement through research, study and leading-edge practices one of our greatest assets. We feel that our assets and continued efforts will be particularly important in the coming years.

Many feel we are at a crossroads as a society and if we do not take intensified action on complex sustainability issues like climate change, we will relegate ourselves to observers, documenting the outcomes of the impacts on natural and human systems.

Continuing to move forward will require the efforts of many to ensure enlightened decision- making and great creativity. We look forward to working with all of you on these challenges and opportunities to help advance sustainability at the University of Manitoba.

Kristina Hunter,
Environmental Science and Studies

John Sinclair,
Natural Resources Institute

Executive Summary

The University of Manitoba is committed to continuing our journey to a more sustainable future, for both our University and the world. Through our teaching and innovative research opportunities, we endeavour to take action to mitigate, reverse and adapt to the impacts of climate change, help achieve the global sustainable development goals (SDGs), and advance ecological and human well-being on campus and beyond.

As the largest university in Manitoba, we acknowledge the impact we have on our environment and communities, and embrace the unique opportunity to influence and foster more sustainable behaviours, both locally and globally.

The Sustainability Strategy 2019-2023 outlines our commitment to significant large-scale actions that will advance our approach to sustainability at the University, pushing us to be innovators; continue the progress realized through current initiatives; and further integrate sustainable thinking into all areas of the University. Building upon elements of previous sustainability strategies, our journey continues on a path to increase and enhance sustainability efforts to conserve and protect our ecological environment while increasing human well-being on our campus and beyond.

This strategy outlines the actions we plan to take in the next five years toward climate action, resource conservation and pollution prevention; ecological systems; Indigenous achievement and resurgence; wellness and accessibility; innovation and governance; teaching and learning; and community connection and engagement. Metrics to track our performance are included to inform our progress, challenges and opportunities over the next five years.

The goals and commitments defined in this strategy will foster new learning and research opportunities, deliver social and environmental benefits for our community and contribute to the sustainable financial management of the University. The strategy guides us on a path to achieve a Platinum rating under the STARS system, to be a leader in sustainability within post-secondary institutions worldwide and to do our part in helping achieve the global SDGs agreed to by all countries of the United Nations.

Partnership, engagement and commitment from our administration, students, staff and faculty, the community, the private sector and governments will be essential to achieving the University’s vision for sustainability.


Since the industrial revolution, our interactions with the planet and each other have changed dramatically, resulting in both social and ecological benefits but at the cost of the Earth’s vitality and growing inequality. Sustainability is internationally understood to mean “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” and today is framed by 17 global sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030, as agreed to by all countries of the United Nations, for addressing people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.

The 2015 United Nations SDGs recognize that ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring all people enjoy peace and prosperity must be supported by actions and initiatives to promote economic growth, enhance our environmental protection, and address social aspects such as health, education, human rights and employment. These documents are a global call to action for us to work together to achieve greatness and ensure the health and longevity of our planet. Importantly, the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has outlined the urgent need to keep global temperatures 1.5 degrees below pre- industrial levels. This urgency is born out of evidence showing that the impacts of climate change not only affect the physical environment in irreversible ways but also affect the poor and vulnerable at a disproportionate rate.

The University of Manitoba’s Sustainability Strategy 2019-2023 builds upon the goals outlined in the previous sustainability strategy, providing direction and guidance to the current and future operations of the University. The new strategy reflects priorities and initiatives guided by the Sustainability Policy, and responds to wider-reaching programs such as the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), used to track and evaluate campus sustainability progress; commitments outlined in the Province of Manitoba’s Climate and Green Plan; and the global SDGs. The strategy acts as a catalyst for sustainability at the University while addressing the global need to take urgent action.


The U of M considers and actively pursues the ecological, social and economic aspects of sustainability through its programs and operations. Our vision for sustainability recognizes the interdependence of these three elements, understanding the connections and effects of these relationships. Our holistic approach to the University’s sustainability journey is highlighted through teaching and learning, research and community engagement that support regeneration, participation and effective use of resources. We aim to foster growth and provide opportunities in a way that our present actions will ensure future generations can achieve levels of well- being that are at least as great as those achieved now.


This strategy supports a range of established University policies and planning initiatives, including the strategic plan and priorities for education and research, the Sustainability Policy, the Visionary (re)Generation Master Plan, the Bannatyne Campus Master Plan and the Indigenous Planning and Design Principles. In addition, this document is a continuation and renewal of previous sustainability strategies (2012 and 2016).

Our Approach

This strategy is sorted into Research and Academics, Campus Life and Infrastructure and Operations. Research and Academics are at the core of the University. Campus Life activities support the student, staff, faculty and community experience on campus.

Infrastructure and Operations initiatives ensure the physical structures and processes of the University are functioning to help support the campus community.

Each topic area includes goals and commitments, which represent both a continuation of priorities identified in the previous strategy, and new items identified through the engagement process.

Each commitment within the strategy also includes an icon. The icons listed below frame the timeline within which each commitment will take place. As this strategy is a living document, some of these timelines will shift as the University follows its sustainability journey.