UWF is committed to the development of young adult leaders (17-30), within a context of sustainable best practice.

In the international sphere as a Global Action Partner (GAP) with UNESCO and the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDS), we focus primarily on the following.

Quality Education

Clean Water



In the NZ arena our current field programmes focus on Water and Bio-Diversity, fostering, promoting and facilitating the celebration of the diversity and beauty of our environment and different cultures in New Zealand (and globally). We emphasise cultural harmony and understanding. Quality experiential education, socio-emotional learning and partnership-building are central to the above. Overall a holistic look at the impact of our actions and behaviours. We run five week-long programmes each year focused on tackling the important issues facing our future at the most grassroots level, each custom designed for the regions in which they operate:

  • Waterwise Engineering - Central Otago

  • Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) - National

Each has been bespoke developed by Programme Director Dr. Barry Law with a framework that places the student at the centre of decision-making and activity.

Over the course of a week, students are mentored by lecturers, teachers and community educators from a range of backgrounds to provide support and guidance into becoming independent learners that can share ideas collaboratively and work together to problem solve challenges along the way.

“I think it is a strength of the programme that we were never told something and expected to believe it. Instead we discussed, debated, and deliberated everything before coming to our own well-reasoned conclusions. The confidence that this has given me has encouraged me to speak out about issues that matter to me and has given me the determination to make a difference to the sustainability of our planet”.
— George Watson – Darfield High

In 2007 our work was acknowledged by UNESCO as a model of quality learning and teaching for sustainable development at an international level, a partnership which continues to this day. As a result, each UWF Scholarship certificate will include the UNESCO Global Action Programme logo.

Our Programmes

Blumine Island

Marlborough Sounds

Our foundation programme where we have been working since 2002, focused on returning the island to its original state without introduced predators, and developing a sanctuary for native animal and plant species at risk.



An exploration of four primary issues pertaining to this most critical of resources. Students are exposed to, and interact with, all players in the water resource chain in the beautiful Central Otago region.

Upcoming Programmes




An exploration of four primary issues pertaining to this most critical of resources. Students are exposed to, and interact with, all players in the water resource chain in the Canterbury region, from the primary energy players, through to the farming, recreation, cultural and conservation interests, all of whom are involved in sustainable water management.

Graduate Programmes

In early 2019 we piloted our first advanced Leadership (ALP) or Graduate programme, at Mt Aspiring, working with exceptional Graduate students from across New Zealand.  The question is often asked by students and stakeholders 'what next?' Our aim with the Graduate ALP program is to go some way to answering this question directly, taking the passion of graduates and focusing it specifically on both their own personal behaviour change and consequent action that will positively impact their community - ‘Acts of Kindness’.

Untouched World-2.jpg

recognising our leaders

We also host a bi-annual dinner that honours four annual outstanding student leaders from that year’s field programmes, and two Alumni Champion student teachers, whose progress since leaving our programmes has been exemplary.