Yvonne Buckley, professor of zoology at Trinity, will take up the new role of vice-president for biodiversity and climate action in January 2022. This post will place sustainability at the centre of TCD’s governance and operations by making it a key focus at the highest levels within the university.

New sustainability office

During the first six months of her term, the new vice-president fob biodiversity and climate action will set up structures needed for a 'Climate First Trinity', including resourcing a new sustainability office comprising dedicated members of academic and professional staff.

Prof Buckley’s role will ensure that Trinity has a sustainable future within a flourishing national and international environment for people, nature and the economy

This office will build on work already in progress in Trinity’s Climate Action Plan and work towards a Biodiversity Action Plan for Trinity’s campuses together with strengthening and amplifying Trinity’s climate and biodiversity impact through research, teaching and learning.

Provost Linda Doyle championed this new role as part of her vision for Trinity’s future and sees embedding sustainability in Trinity life as a key priority for the years ahead. She said: “I’d like to warmly welcome Yvonne to her new role as we look forward to working together with the whole College community to enact real change.

"Many staff and students are already making important contributions to Trinity’s sustainability, and Yvonne and her team will support and amplify their activities, as well as ensuring Trinity gets the most benefit from joined-up thinking around efforts across operations, teaching, research, and engagement with external organisations.” 

The Healthy Trinity initiative – a cross-college partnership comprised of nine working groups involving staff and students – will be embedded within the new sustainability office as there are important parallels and intersections between human and planetary health.

Prof Buckley aims to use these connections to achieve mutual benefits for people from changes in the way we operate. Healthy diets; active travel; workplace health; physical and mental health; and understanding how systems affect our choices and behaviour are just some of the areas under the spotlight.

The government Climate Action Plan sets a target of 7% reductions of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions per year to 2030. Trinity will need to put a wide range of solutions in place to help achieve these reductions, and there are opportunities here to deliver important additional benefits to the way we live and work.

'Decade of action'

Prof Buckley said: “A very important word in the title of this new position is ‘action’. 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.

"Trinity has been acting on sustainability for many years now, but it has been an ‘add-on’ rather than a key focus. 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.

“There has been great progress in the last few years in making Trinity more sustainable and in harnessing the ingenuity and passion that so many of our researchers, students and staff have for creating a greener future.

"We recognise the importance and value of involving as many people as possible from the Trinity community to tackle the challenges ahead and are excited to expand our contribution to the climate and biodiversity solutions we need if all sectors of society are to thrive in the decades ahead.”