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The University of Hawaiʻi integrates sustainability
across its Operations, Education, Research,
Campus & Community Engagement
and Cultural Connections.

Executive Policy 4.202

5 Pillars of Sustainability

Exploring the “meeting of wisdoms” between indigenous ancestral knowledge systems and western empirical sciences

Today, humanity is faced with planetary crises compounded by the disconnect between modern society and nature. We posit that these crises are rooted in the lack of understanding and engagement with deeper meaning and value of place.

Indigenous cultures and their systems and structures offer ways of thinking, being, and doing that can restore and sustain balance. An enriched sense of place offers both symbolic and empirical dividends to the communities it serves.

The vibrant Hawaiian culture that flourishes in harmony with the natural resources available to its people continues to offer a powerful and timely model for mutually beneficial relationships between human and natural systems in Hawaiʻi and the global community. Aloha ʻĀina invites innovation and creativity in our academic and scholarly enterprise to transform students and create engaged citizens who care for our people and our places in order to serve our islands and our planet.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is defined as “serving the needs of the present without jeopardizing the needs of the future.”

We refer to the principles of The Earth Charter which defines sustainability in all its dimensions: cultural, economic, environmental, and social.

We recognize the rich foundation of indigenous Hawaiian cultural values and knowledge, and seek to learn from this foundation in order to respond to climate change and sustainability challenges.

“We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.”

– The Earth Charter

RSS News

As part of the largest collection of scientific publications authored by Native Hawaiians that focuses on biocultural restoration in Hawaiʻi, an interdisciplinary research team from the University of Hawaiʻi at MānoaThe Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi (TNC) and the community-based non-profit Kakoʻo ʻŌiwidemonstrated how biocultural restoration of traditional agriculture (loʻi kalo) produces healthy local food, supports vibrant communities and provides clean water to downstream coral reef and fish pond ecosystems.

At the same time, the research team showed how such biocultural restoration efforts can significantly contribute to State of Hawaiʻi sustainability goals around local food production, carbon neutrality and ecosystem protection. Read full story at

February 11, 2019

Biocultural restoration in Limahuli Valley, Hāʻena, Kauaʻi (Photo credit: Kim S. Rogers)

An interdisciplinary group of researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi teamed up with colleagues from other universities and several Native Hawaiian communities to compile conservation findings in a special issue of Sustainability that will be the largest collection of scientific publications made by Native Hawaiians. The group’s work focuses on biocultural restoration in Hawaiʻi.

The work collectively highlights Hawaiʻi as a global leader in the realm of biocultural restoration and aims to influence policy both locally and internationally. Read the full story at

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Last modified: October 4, 2019
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