Critical Path to Sustainability: USask Sustainability Strategy 2021-2030

Universities are emerging that are undergoing a transformation based on design aspirations that will affect a shift in social outcomes that will achieve equality and equity. Inspired by these design aspirations, we have created a strategy to achieve the SDGs that covers a ten-year period, with milestones for 2025 (coinciding with USask’s University Plan) and 2030 (coinciding with the United Nations Agenda 2030 to achieve the SDGs). The strategy is a “living” one; we will be highly responsive to changing needs and opportunities, and we will adjust our path as new information becomes available.

Commitment 1: Leverage Our Place

Be responsive to our social, economic, environmental, and cultural settings, and to influence and be influenced by them as solutions to our sustainability challenges are created, mobilized, and shared


Our goal is to be an engaged university that works in a coordinated and innovative way with communities to achieve the SDGs.


Establish an Advisory Table

Establish a joint university-community advisory table to share, exchange, create and identify synergies. The advisory table would include representation from government, industry, not-for-profits and all communities wanting to cocreate and co-implement sustainability solutions for society. The advisory table would be guided by science-based decisions and support and inform sustainability actions to support the SDGs.

Nurture and Convene Public Discourse

Nurture and convene public discourse on sustainability and the SDGs with the goal of inspiring wide-spread awareness, engagement and action.

Build Bridges and Create Portals

Build bridges and create portals through which external partners can easily and effectively engage with the
university community as well as offer new perspectives and opportunities to drive shared action on sustainability issues.

Commitment 2: Model the Way

Foster an entrepreneurial campus spirit and utilize the campus operations and community as a living laboratory to pilot and then diffuse and scale sustainability solutions.


Our goal is to reduce USask’s greenhouse gas emissions 45% from their 2010 levels by 2030, and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. These goals are in keeping with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s science-based targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C above the pre-industrial norm. The university will need to implement operational changes, and to make sure these changes do not stall, it will need to align institutional priorities, policies, programs, and services to achieve the reduction targets.


Invest in Solutions

Invest responsibly and invest in operational solutions to reduce our Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions while improving our contribution to our Scope 4 (avoided) emissions.

Bolster Action and Remove Barriers

Ensure climate actions are bolstered and barriers are removed by reviewing the university’s strategic planning and decisionmaking processes and its policies and practices to confirm alignment with the emission goals. Where needed, we will design new “climate-sensitive” polices that directly address
reductions in Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions. We will leverage our capital investments by working with governments, industries and communities to increase our contribution to Scope 4 emissions.

Align Finance with Emissions Goals

Map finance and accounting structures, norms, and practices (both capital and operations) to align with the emission goals. Review our resource allocation processes to revenue and support centers to ensure they create the incentives and rewards required for effective climate action. Seek opportunities to improve our resource allocation processes by advancing novel finance and accounting approaches to facilitate climate action (e.g., pilot an internal carbon accounting strategy). Use a portion of budgetary savings from reduced emissions to advance climate action on campus and within the community.

Share Widely Our Progress

Share widely our reports on progress towards achieving climate action goals. Design and implement more comprehensive measures of the university’s emissions, make clear deadlines for on-campus climate action, and report frequently to our governing bodies on progress towards achieving this commitment.


Commitment 3: Empower Action

Support a generation of learners and achievers to shift mindsets and expand skillsets to accelerate action to achieve the SDGs.


Our goal is to ensure all faculty, staff and students have a holistic understanding of sustainability, by promoting, enabling and engaging them to explore, discover and find ways to implement new ideas with the support of the entire institution.


Equip Champions

Equip all faculty, staff and students in all disciplines to be sustainability champions throughout their lives by ensuring they have access to sustainability educational experiences. This will require learning about diverse knowledges of sustainability and incorporating these knowledges into curricula across the campus.

Engage Sustainability in Curricula

Develop mechanisms to engage faculty and academic units in changing or modifying curricula in their courses and programs to include sustainability principles and the SDGs. With these mechanisms, the required transformation can be accelerated and the distance between where we are and where we need to be can be reduced.

Enable Diverse Learning

Enable access to sustainability curricula for diverse learners, including the ability to select the optimal mode of learning (in-person, synchronous or asynchronous online), being mindful that all trainees will need access to the appropriate equipment. Advance work on providing varied credential types to increase access and flexibility for diverse learners.

Demonstrate & Experience Learning

Enable students to work with local community leaders to explore how failure to achieve the SDGs is impacting their communities and to create sustainability solutions through experiential learning programs involving projects, placements, and practicums, both within the institution and with the community.


Commitment 4: Capitalize on Strengths

Bring together the campus community to create knowledges focused on designing and implementing innovative and workable solutions to sustainability challenges.


Our goal is to seamlessly integrate learning, discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship, and thereby put our knowledge to work to achieve the SDGs.


Build Leadership and Capacity

Build leadership and capacity in innovation, including increasing, diversifying and enhancing convergence research in which every member of the university will be encouraged to focus some of their energy to solving sustainability challenges.

Create Innovation Ecosystems

Create convergent innovation hubs, with the capacity to pilot and perfect technological innovations to solve local, regional, national, and global sustainability challenges, and to enable and facilitate social innovations such as the institutional changes that must accompany technological innovations.

Forge and Lead Collaborations

Forge and lead unique multi-community, multi-partner and multi-sector collaborations to tackle the full spectrum of sustainability challenges, from idea germination to translation into real-life solutions.


Commitment 5: Catalyze Social Change

Promote, engage, and support shared knowledges, expertise, and experiences to affect the change needed.


Our goal is to make sustainability personally relevant and to inspire and be agents of positive change for our local communities and the world. By learning how to solve sustainability challenges, we can become leaders in the demonstration of innovative solutions that are capable of being broadly diffused and scaled up.


Engage in Local and Global Dialogue

Engage in dialogue to develop a shared understanding of both the challenges and solutions to global sustainability challenges.

Actively Listen to All Voices

Ensure the voices in our learning environments and in the research that we undertake is grounded in principles of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Leverage Networks for Action

Leverage networks and partnerships between universities and the private sector, public sector, not-for-profits and civil society here and abroad, to harness actions and opportunities for scalable social and technological sustainability solutions, and to influence political leaders to accept and act on these solutions.