Senator Alice-Mary Higgins launches NUI Galway Sustainability Strategy

Launching the NUI Galway Sustainability Strategy with Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Dr Frances Fahy and Professor Colin Brown
Launching the NUI Galway Sustainability Strategy with Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Dr Frances Fahy and Professor Colin Brown

On Wednesday 15th November 2017, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins launched NUI Galway's Sustainability Strategy. 

The strategy is a community led initiative which approaches sustainability in a holistic manner under six key categories: research and learning, energy and greenhouse gas emissions, nature and ecosystems, health and well-being, built environment, governance and leadership.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, said: “It is wonderful to see NUI Galway recognising the crucial role that they and other third level institutions can and should play in shaping a sustainable future on our shared planet. This strategy demonstrates more of the positive joined up thinking seen in the University’s recent commitment to divestment from fossil fuels following a successful campaign by staff and students."

She continued "While the proposals in this plan are well-grounded in Galway and the campus community, they are also a commitment to partnership with the wider world. The UN Sustainable Development Goals have set out an important blueprint for Ireland and many countries and remind us that sustainability is not only about the environment, it is also about social sustainability. It is therefore great to see holistic proposals in this strategy that range from crucial climate change research to new mental health initiatives with space for new and innovative ideas to emerge.”

Disappointingly, on the same day that the strategy was launched The Climate Change Performance Index ranked Ireland as the worst performing country in Europe in terms of climate action. Senator Alice-Mary Higgins said, "It is important that the commitment to climate action which we see among civil society and emerging from the recommendations of the citizens' assembly should be reflected in government policy. I will continue to work with colleagues to push the government to increase their ambition for climate action to match that of civil society."

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Senator Higgins highlights inequalities in education arising from COVID-19

Over the last number of weeks, I have been corresponding with the Minister for Education and Skills on issues raised by Covid 19 at every level of our education system. This crisis has deepened inequalities already faced by many students, I have called for particular action on the difficulties faced by students in direct provision. I have also pressed for a ‘no detriment’ policy and policies that ensure real opportunity and choice for all leaving cert students. In a time of emergency we cannot allow vulnerable communities to be left behind -  I have also highlighted the challenges faced by Ireland’s research sector and called for more flexible and ambitious funding across science and the humanities, including more public-public research. The collective challenges we will face in terms of society, culture, economy and environment over the coming months and years will require research of many different kinds. The Irish Research Council funding for research on the Sustainable Development Goals is one example of a project which could and should be scaled up as we try to ensure future resilience and sustainability. Education can and must be an accessible and enriching social good. 

Lastly, as part of the wider reimagining of our public spaces, I have called for an investment in better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure around our schools to ensure that safe and sustainable transport is an option for more families next September.