Sustainability takes centre stage at College

From carbon reduction to conferences, Wolfson continues to push forward with its conservation and sustainability initiatives on a number of fronts, thanks to its Fellows, students and alumni networks.

Solar panel installation on roof

Interdisciplinary Research Hub

The Sustainability & Conservation Research Hub convenes a variety of disciplines and academics at different career stages, from undergraduate students to Emeritus Fellows. Through events, projects, mentoring and more, the Hub draws on Wolfson's strengths in diversity with students from 85+ nationalities, world-class researchers and highly engaged networks. Conveners of the Hub include Fellows Professor Steve Evans and Professor John French, Junior Research Fellow Dr Guillaume Nataf.

The Hub is collaborating with the ASEAN Emerging Researchers Conference for a fantastic events to take place on Monday 30 November. This event features prominent expert speakers, posters and an interactive panel discussion from the Wolfson College and ASEAN Communities, all discussing aspects of ‘Challenges in Global Development: Sustainability & Conservation’. Welcome addresses by Professor Jane Clarke and CEO of Sunway University Group, Dr Elizabeth Lee, will be followed by a Keynote speech by alumnus and noted ecological architect, Dr Ken Yeang.

A reflective open-meeting event on Monday 14 December follows, with progress since the Hubs formation in July 2020, emerging opportunities and plans for 2021 on the agenda.

Keeping fossil fuels in the ground

The College’s Council and Governing Body have endorsed the University’s decision recently announced by the Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope that the University plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2038. The Cambridge University Endowment Fund – in which most of Wolfson’s endowment is invested – aims to divest from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels by 2030, more than a decade before the date set by the UK Government.

Driving change at College

The College Council recently agreed that the College should form a working group with a view to ensuring that sustainability is embedded into all aspects of the College’s activities. This group will also make recommendations on how to determine appropriate goals and targets and on the governance of the College’s sustainability agenda.

Professor Steve Evans and Professor John French outlined the need and scope for a working group to develop and continue to drive forward the College’s approach to sustainability, capitalising on the energy and enthusiasm generated by the Sustainability and Conservation Hub in conjunction with the wide range of relevant expertise and experience across the Fellowship. Citing examples of current best practice across the sector, referencing the UN’s sustainable development goals and outlining the opportunity to introduce KPIs in relation to energy, water, carbon and waste and participate in science-based target initiatives (SBTIs), Professors Evans and French invite any interested Fellows to join the working group by emailing Steve Evans .

In addition to the working group, the College will once again be striving for a Green Impact Award. The effort is headed up by Domestic Bursar Darren Smith with the assistance of new WCSA Green Officer Reinhard Nyandire (MPhil in Conservation Leadership) and the College Green Society. Last year Wolfson achieved a Gold Impact Award and this year the College intends to submit for an Excellence Project in support of the Sustainability & Conservation Hub.

Talking Green

And finally, the Wolfson Green Society, formed in 2019, continues to host fortnightly Zoom webinars on a range of conservation issues; recent presenters have included a local beekeeper, a Wildlife Trust Manager who uses drones to monitor wildlife, and the former EU Ambassador at large to the Arctic. All of these webinars can be found in the Wolfson Media Collection. Next up today, Wednesday 25 November, is Dr Resson Kantai Duff, Director of Community Conservation Ewaso Lions-Kenya, who will speak on ‘The post-2020 conservation pathway’.