NUI Galway Launches Second Sustainability Strategy 2021-2025

Photo of NUI Galway campus. Photo: Chaosheng Zhang
Mar 10 2021 Posted: 10:15 GMT

University develops an ambitious roadmap to carbon neutrality by 2030

NUI Galway has unveiled its second sustainability strategy. The NUI Galway Sustainability Strategy 2021-2025 was officially launched today (9 March 2021) by Dr Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Chair of the Elders.

It sets out an ambitious vision to lead the transition to a sustainable future by embedding sustainability in the University's culture, operational policies, governance structure and empowering its communities to be champions of sustainability. The strategy's objectives are embedded in a Learn-Live-Lead ethos that guides its sustainability efforts.

The strategy was developed by the Community University Sustainability Partnership (CUSP) team, chaired by Professor Jamie Goggins, following campus wide consultation. The Strategy identifies 25 key measures of success organised around six themes: Research and Learning; Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Nature and Ecosystems; Health and Wellbeing; Built Environment; Governance and Leadership.

Key sustainability measures include:

  • Research and Learning: Integration of sustainability across all university education programmes by 2023. NUI Galway currently offers over 230 courses that cover environmental and sustainability content.
  • Energy and greenhouse gas emissions: Improve energy efficiency by 45%, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% and 20% of electricity to come from renewable sources, by 2025.
  • Nature and Ecosystems: Become an exemplar in biodiversity related research and learning with the implementation of the Biodiversity Action Plan.
  • Built Environment: By 2025, reduce food wastage by 50% and water consumption by 10%.
  • Health and Wellbeing: Help students and staff attain full physical, social, sexual and mental health and wellbeing. These include achieving a tobacco free campus by 2021, a Healthy Campus status by 2022 and reduce year on year, the level of harmful drinking among students.
  • Governance and Leadership: Develop an ambitious roadmap to carbon neutrality by 2030.

Sustainability has been gathering momentum as a core value at NUI Galway for a number of years. The university launched its inaugural sustainability strategy for the campus in 2017. This was followed by the appointment of the University’s first Sustainability Officer, Michelle O’Dowd Lohan, in September 2019.

Some of the major milestones reached as a result of the first strategy include: academic staff embracing sustainability as part of the curriculum; becoming a Green Campus Ireland awarded site; exceeding the Public Sector 2020 Energy Efficiency target of 33%, reaching the University's target of 40% in 2020; becoming the first Green Lab certification in Europe; and managing the campus grounds in line with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.

Dr Mary Robinson, commented: “It is heartening to see NUI Galway stepping up and shaping a future that has sustainability at the core. It is incumbent on universities to act on the single greatest challenge our society faces. Through your learn-live-lead approach - advancing sustainability through your teaching and learning, research, actions and impacts - 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.”

Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, NUI Galway Deputy President and Registrar and Chair of the CUSP Advisory Board, said: “We are living in a time of great threat to the sustainability of our planet. 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.”

In December 2019, the university further demonstrated its commitment to sustainability at an institutional level by signing the Sustainable Development Goals Accord. Most recently NUI Galway was announced the winner of the Sustainability Category of the Galway Chamber Awards, recognising the University’s commitment to extend sustainability beyond the campus walls and into local communities.

NUI Galway Student's Union President, Padraic Twoomey, said: “When it comes to Sustainability, the students' voice was loudest. 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.”

Read the full Sustainability Strategy 2021-2025 here:


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