“It is our responsibility to take bold action – to have the courage to explore the unknown and collectively pioneer a better path forward.”
Professor Kerstin Mey
President University of Limerick
The rapid pace of societal growth has caused us to exceed many of Earth’s planetary boundaries. We are now living in a deficit – consuming resources at a rate at which they cannot be replenished. By prioritising economic growth, we have disregarded the needs of the natural world. In the process, we have also created unprecedented rates of inequality and social injustice. The impact of this on the well-being of people and the planet is now evident. The defining challenge of the 21st century will be to balance social progress with these environmental boundaries: to learn how all life on Earth can flourish as one.
The more we learn about the challenges of our time, the more we come to understand that they are systemic. They are interconnected and related in ways that can seem invisible to us. Action is being taken around the world to address these systemic challenges. For many, it has led to the realisation that we must reconsider the very fundamentals of society that we have taken for granted. While many transformative innovations will be required to overcome these systemic challenges, our first step must be to restore our relationship with the natural world and heal the divisions that pervade our society. We are all part of the web of life, and until this understanding is instilled within the core of our institutions, we will continue down our current path towards ecological and social decline.
UL has always been committed to enabling our students to become engaged and socially responsible citizens – individuals who can create positive impact both within the region and internationally. We are now building on this commitment by wholly aligning ourselves to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This commitment brings with it three central responsibilities:
- To provide the space and mentorship for our students to develop into citizens who act as stewards of sustainability, both in their personal and professional lives.
- To double-down on sustainability-led research and knowledge generation to support the shaping of our transitioning societal structures.
- To fulfil our role as custodians of social and environmental responsibility through leading by example within our grounds and communities.
To deliver on these responsibilities, I promise to ensure that sustainable development lies at the heart of everything UL strives to become. From today onwards, sustainability should be evident across all aspects of our campus. It should be an integral part of our ethos, our governance and our leadership. It should guide our research and shape our students’ experiences. It should exist at the core of our partnerships and collaborations. Most importantly, it should become an integral part of our home and community life – allowing us to lead the way and inspire the next generation of leaders to come. Ambitious goals such as these cannot be achieved in isolation; they are too grand for any single individual, team or discipline to tackle alone. Instead, they require a commitment to fostering meaningful collaboration so we can envision the world we wish to create and spark the desire to act in solidarity for the good of all life on Earth.
It is our responsibility to take bold action – to have the courage to explore the unknown and collectively pioneer a better path forward.
I invite you to join me in making this our story; the story of how UL became a leader within the transformation towards an equitable and sustainable society. A world where people and planet thrive together.