The OU as a business

View our policies, statements, reports and guidance relating to sustainability.

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The OU as a business

The Open University promotes principles of sustainability, environmental and social justice in their broadest sense. We define sustainability as meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The UN Sustainable Development Goals express sustainability in the context of social, environmental, economic, global and future wellbeing.

We acknowledge the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations, including the goods and services we procure, our travel, our estate and our finance policies. We are committed to achieving ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, through a programme of investment and measures to reduce and mitigate the adverse environmental impact of our activities.

We will continue to embrace policy and practice across the four nations, including the Climate Change Act 2008, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and Ireland’s example of deliberative democracy with the Citizens’ Assembly.

Fossil Fuel Divestment

In October 2021, The Open University Council commitmented to ensuring long-term investment funds do not contain exposure to fossil fuel companies. The University is working to ensure that this is achieved by December 2023 and is on target to meet this deadline. Read the full statement in our bulletin from earlier this year.

Sustainability policies and statements 

We shall transparently report on our commitments, plans and progress, updating this page with our latest reports. Policies and statements are reviewed on a cyclical basis every two or three years and delivered through plans held by relevant departments and units of the university. We strive to continuously improve and learn from good practice and therefore welcome staff and student feedback on all our policies and plans (published in July). If you would like to submit comments or feedback, please email by 14 September 2023 and we’ll endeavour to incorporate your responses where appropriate before re-publishing in October. We don’t have capacity to respond to everyone individually and may not be able to act on your suggestions immediately, however we shall consider all actions and schedule for the future where possible. Feedback received after this date will be cached for our next review of policies. By clicking on the links below you’ll find more details and information about each of our plans, policies, statements, and performance. You can find a glossary of the terminology used here.


External sustainability reporting