By Caoimhe Killeen
NUI Galway have officially unveiled a second sustainability strategy entitled the ‘Sustainability Strategy 2021-2025.’
The strategy which was launched by former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson was developed by a Community University Sustainability Partnership (CUSP) team chaired by Professor Jamie Goggins and focuses around 25 key measures of success through a “live, learn and lead” approach.
These measures are based around the themes of research and learning, energy and greenhouse gas emissions, nature, and ecosystems, built environment, health and wellbeing and governance and leadership to lead a transition to a sustainable future by adapting policies that are more sustainable for the university.
Some of the key sustainability measures include integrating sustainability across all education programmes offered in NUI Galway by 2023, improving energy efficiency by 45%, reducing food wastage by 50% and achieving a tobacco free campus within the year.
“It is heartening to see NUI Galway stepping up and shaping a future that has sustainability at the core” stated Dr Robinson at the launch.
“It is incumbent on Universities to act on the single greatest challenge our society faces…you can play a leading role in the transition to a more sustainable future. By unleashing sustainability potential in the leaders of tomorrow, you can extend sustainability beyond the campus wall and into our communities.”
Under the first sustainability strategy, NUI Galway managed to become a Green Campus Ireland awarded site and reached a targeted 40%, exceeding the Public Sector 2020 Energy Efficiency Target of 33%.
NUI Galway has also tried to extend its sustainability efforts beyond its campus walls. It won the Sustainability Category of last year’s Galway Chamber Awards on a local level. On an international level, it has signed the Sustainable Development Goals Accord.
“We are living in a time of great threat to the sustainability of our planet” stated Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, NUI Galway Deputy President and Registrar and Chair of the CUSP Advisory Board.
“Today we are putting in place a strategy that sets out our vision and commitment to lead the transition to a sustainable future on our campus, in our city and around the world. The strategy has been a collaboration involving academics, students, and professional staff right across the University and in the wider community. It is only by coming together that we can achieve the future we want.”
“When it comes to sustainability, the students’ voice was loudest”, stated NUI Galway’s Students’ Union President Pádraic Toomey.
“We will inherit this planet and want to make sure that it’s one that we can live in. Too long as a society we left things just go by without change and we hope with pushing for sustainability within the college we can make waves for the future.”