Professor of Zoology Yvonne Buckley is to take up the role of vice president for biodiversity and climate action at the beginning of next year.
Trinity is the first university in Ireland to appoint a senior official to promote action on climate change issues.
During the first six months of her term, which begins in January 2022, Prof Buckley will focus on putting in place organisational structures to coordinate climate action. College will establish a “sustainability office” composed of academic and professional staff to “build on work already in progress in Trinity’s Climate Action Plan” and work on a Biodiversity Action Plan.
Provost Linda Doyle sees this new role as “part of her vision for Trinity’s future”, and a “key priority for the years ahead”. According to her, many staff and students are already making “important contributions to Trinity’s sustainability” and this initiative will “support and amplify their activities”.
The sustainability office will subsume the Healthy Trinity initiative, a project which has been ongoing for several years and is composed of nine working groups of staff and students from around College. The reasoning for this is that there are “important parallels and intersections between human and planetary health”.
College sees these efforts as necessary for it to achieve the 7% annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions set out in the government’s Climate Action Plan, but says there are “opportunities here to deliver important additional benefits to the way we live and work.”
According to Prof Buckley, action on climate issues cannot wait: “We are in a decade of action right now and need to urgently make progress on the climate and biodiversity commitments which have already been made. The debate on whether we need to act or not is closed.”
“This new position raises the profile of biodiversity and climate action within Trinity, across the university sector and – more broadly – represents an important step in the vision of a climate-first Trinity.”