Otago Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic is leading the charge to establish a United Nations Centre of Expertise for Sustainability in Otago – RCE Otago.

OP has embedded the concept of sustainable practice through our curriculum and campus development over the past decade. We are currently coordinating the proposed newest addition to the United Nations’ stable of sustainability expertise.

There are 166 Regional Centres of Excellence (RCE) around the world. Each focuses on select United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs), of which there are 17 in total.

The proposed RCE-Otago will focus on the following issues, all aligned to the SDGs:

• Quality education
• Water quality, availability, use and efficiency
• Sustainable tourism
• Sustainable cities and towns
• Partnerships and collaboration.

Within those, RCE-Otago will tackle issues important to our region such as high-quality learning experiences, waste production and management, disaster management, water management and sustainable horticulture, tourism and agriculture.

“We should find out in mid-December if we’ve been successful in becoming a Regional Centre of Expertise,” Barry Law, Centre Director, says.

“You have to demonstrate you’ve got partnerships in place, major projects planned that will benefit the UN’s sustainable development goals, a strong and collaborative governance structure and, finally, an ability to fund your working group projects. We already have some great partners.”

All the Mayors of Otago have agreed to take part, as has the University of Otago, Kāi Tahu, Otago Regional Council, Chamber of Commerce, Naylor Love, Contact Energy, Queenstown Resort College, Untouched World Foundation, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Wanaka Tourism, and many other businesses and groups, including four secondary schools.

“One great thing about applying for an RCE is that it’s driven by local people deciding that they want a sustainable future,” he says. “Collectively, we are a group of people in a region facing potential climate change, water and tourism issues. We are a hub for education – so why wouldn’t we want to drive this and have some control over our future?

“Another great thing about our RCE is that it could double as a Centre of Vocational Excellence – as proposed by the Government under its reform of vocational education. If we became a CoVE for sustainability, we could help strengthen and support other education providers in Aotearoa.”


Published on 17 Jul 2019

Orderdate: 17 Jul 2019
Expiry: 25 Jul 2021