The Release of the Sustainable Investments Framework
Fossil Free Melbourne University is thankful that the University of Melbourne has finally produced a framework to increase the sustainability of its investments. However, the Wednesday 28th March release of the Sustainable Investment Framework (SIF) appears vague, and is non-committal towards removing its financial investments in the fossil fuel industry.
Furthermore, the SIF was released months after its approval by University Council back in December 2017. We are incredibly disappointed that this decision was kept secret from student stakeholders for months, and that after contracting private consultant Mercer to create options for the SIF, there was no consultation with students on which option the University should adopt. This is particularly disappointing given that student involvement and broader staff engagement were pivotal to the creation of the Sustainability Charter and the Sustainability Plan. We feel that this lack of consultation and commitment to future divestment is a betrayal of trust of the staff, students, and members of the community, who have been campaigning for full divestment from fossil fuel companies for over four years.
Unfortunately, the actions of the University continue to demonstrate that they are focused on merely appearing consultative, rather than genuinely taking on board the needs and demands of students. This is a symptom of the University administration’s focus on reputation and financial acquisitiveness, as well as the general global trend towards the corporatisation of universities.
On its first reading, the SIF appears vague and non-committal, and is a frustration to staff, alumni, and students’ demands for full divestment from fossil fuel companies. The absence of a clear plan from the University to fully divest itself of polluting fossil fuel investments demonstrates that the University has once again failed to value mitigating climate change above its outdated financial investments. The University has the opportunity to be a climate world leader, but by continuing to stall real action on climate change it is putting its dirty ties to a corrupt industry ahead of its staff and students’ futures.
Fossil Free Melbourne University is reviewing the document and seeking legal advice to ascertain whether the SIF can pave the way for full divestment from coal, oil, and gas industries. Fossil Free MU plans to release a full statement within the next week once this review is complete.
We hope that the University administration stops wasting the limited time we have to combat climate change, and instead becomes a real climate leader by putting its money where its mouth is.
You can read the University's so-called Sustainable Investments Framework here.