An Auckland University of Technology (AUT) initiative that has overhauled practical sustainability on campus has been recognised at the inaugural 2021 Green Impact International Special Awards.
One of the founding members of BELoved Planet programme, Kim Daly, has been named the Global Sustainability Hero at the Special Awards, beating out nominations from 76 countries and finalists from Belgium’s Vrije Universiteit and the UK’s National Star.
Through Green Impact - a United Nations award-winning programme designed to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice within more than 1500 global organisations – Kim has overhauled sustainability at AUT by fostering a culture of accountability and action.
“Putting AUT and New Zealand on the international map for sustainability has shown that our size does not hinder us. We punch above our weight and I’m so honoured that although we’re small on a global scale, you can feel our impact,” says Kim.
Kim played a critical role in establishing BELoved Planet in 2020 as a practical way to help colleagues in AUT’s Faculty of Business, Economics and Law embrace environmentalism. The programme has since grown to become a daily part of life for many of AUT’s staff and students.
The programme’s impact has been significant, with new initiatives such as the elimination of single-use kitchen items, upskilling colleagues about recycling and composting for collective impact and the introduction of organic bins across campus putting a renewed focus on the importance of practical sustainability.
In awarding Kim the accolade, the international judging panel noted: “The reason we selected Kim is because she demonstrates what it really means to be a trailblazer and a champion for sustainability. Her focus on both advocacy and educating the campus community as well as working on bottom-up greening initiatives encompasses what it means to be a sustainability champion on campus.”
Kim said the award was the culmination of a lifelong commitment to taking care of the environment around her.
“I remember from a preschool age going to the beach with my grandmother and feeling compelled to pick up some rubbish; I inherently knew that helping our planet was a good thing and that is something I have carried with me throughout my life.
“And this award has only reenergised me. All the work that is happening with Green Impact at AUT, in New Zealand and right across the world has made me more committed than ever to take on the challenges we are going to face in 2022 and beyond.”
AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack congratulated Kim on receiving the prestigious international award.
“For many people across the university, Kim has become the face of practical sustainability in action. She embodies AUT’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and has made such a difference in how our staff and students have approached and embraced good sustainability practices.”
Kim said she hoped the award would inspire a new wave of staff and students to become sustainability heroes by embracing simple and practical ways of making a difference in our everyday lives.
“If there is one message I want to send, it is that small actions when done by many does have a big collective impact.”