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Moves by the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic to promote sustainability provide a good example for some Australian tertiary institutions to follow, Rhiannon Boyd said yesterday.
Mrs Boyd, of Melbourne, is the general manager of Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS).
This not-for-profit organisation seeks to "inspire, promote and support change towards best practice sustainability" across all kinds of tertiary campuses.
The organisation's 19th annual conference is being held in Dunedin for the first time, at the Otago University campus.
This is the second time the event has been held in New Zealand.
Some conference participants were "coming back year after year", in order to "network with their peers", and learning and gaining energy from each other, she said in an interview.
She remained optimistic about the future and said smart new forms of energy production would bring many positive benefits, including reducing the carbon footprint.
"We're seeing a massive groundswell" in community sentiment towards more sustainability, and some people were doing "amazing things" in Australia.
However, advocates for sustainability still faced significant barriers there.
Although some Australian tertiary institutions had pursued sustainability principles well, some clearly did not enjoy the level of support at chief executive level as was the case at Otago Polytechnic and Otago University, she said.
Asked about New Zealand's recently-passed Zero Carbon Act, she said New Zealand sustainability advocates were enjoying much more government support than in Australia.
A hundred delegates, about 40 from Australia and the rest from New Zealand were attending.
Among yesterday's conference activities was a six-strong morning panel discussion on "climate action", chaired by Prof Samuel Mann, of Otago Polytechnic, and including the polytechnic deputy chief executive for people and performance Megan Gibbons, Dunedin City Council corporate policy manager community planning Maria Ioannou, Otago Peninsula Trust manager of operations Taiaroa Head Hoani Langsbury and Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust manager Scott Willis.
The conference ends today.