University of Arizona Strategic Plan

Sustainability in the Strategic Plan

In 2018, President Robbins initiated a Strategic Planning process for the University of Arizona, engaging more than ten thousand stakeholders in collaborative dialogue about the future vision for the institution. The framework for the Plan is inspired by the Fourth Industrial Revolution - a time of augmented intelligence and the fusion of digital, physical and biological worlds. The Plan is divided into five broad focus areas, or Pillars, and each Pillar has distinct Initiatives that contain clear, achievable goals and performance indicators.

The Office of Sustainability was a key participant in the Strategic Planning process, and developed two initiatives with numerous sub-initiatives in the Plan that cumulatively form “Arizona Sustainability” (also called “Sustainable UA”) within Pillar 5, Institutional Excellence. These initiatives seek to quantifiably increase sustainability, environmental performance and climate resilience across the University's operations, while simultaneously creating a campus culture of sustainable behavior, community partnership, and environmental literacy. The Office of Sustainability was honored to be tasked with elevating the University of Arizona as a sustainability leader in higher education.

In Arizona Sustainability, the University committed to achieving the following sustainability objectives, outlined in two initiatives. In Initiative 5.4A, Sustainability and Resiliency Through University Operations, the University set the following goals:

  1. Attain climate neutrality by 2040, and reduce scope two greenhouse emissions (emissions that result from the purchase of grid-based utilities) on main campus 100% by 2025.
  2. Reduce energy and water use while improving waste diversion.
  3. Develop values and requirements in sustainability that drive University investments, food purchasing, contracting, and procurement practices.
  4. Create networks between research, facilities, students, and the community to foster projects that use campus as a sustainable living laboratory.

More information on scope emissions and the University's commitment to carbon neutrality can be found on our Sustainability & Climate Action Plan page.

In Initiative 5.4B, A Campus Culture of Sustainability and Community Partnership, the University recognized the need to focus not only on operational procedures and metrics when setting sustainability goals, but also the criticality of fostering sustainability as a shared institutional value.

  1. Develop a culture of engagement in sustainability that allows campus to interface more directly and meaningfully with the Tucson and Southern Arizona communities.
  2. Create a campus culture that appeals to prospective and current students, through the University's academic strength and positive reputation in sustainability and environment, and our standings in national and international sustainability rankings.
  3. Increase diversity and inclusivity within sustainability student organizations to better meet society's greatest challenges. Work in tandem with University Student Centers and other student groups that have been historically more marginalized in sustainability conversations and endeavors.
  4. Heighten connections between the University's world-class research enterprise and its sustainability-related academic curricula. Broaden academic research in the environment, and ensure that sustainability is incorporated into general education requirements for graduation, regardless of major.
  5. Clearly address the ways in which accessibility, privilege and education affect sustainability, both on- and off-campus, and enhance stakeholder well-being through sustainability awareness, education and programming.
  6. Develop values and requirements in sustainability that holistically drive the University's organizational culture and best practices.

The goals in the Initiatives above were collaboratively developed through a series of interdepartmental, interdisciplinary working groups convened by the Office of Sustainability. Working group members included representatives from community non-profits, local government, and University faculty, students, and staff across more than ten departments. All input gathered was used to inform the creation of realistic, actionable goals and clear methods for measuring progress. As the University of Arizona continues with the implementation of the Strategic Plan, the Office intends to continue a high level of dialogue and enrichment via the continued involvement of these critical partners and stakeholders.

To read more about the University's Strategic Plan and to receive status updates, please visit