University of St Andrews strengthens green agenda with key hiring

Former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, Professor Sir Ian Boyd, will lead the provider’s response to climate change

The University of St Andrews has appointed former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, Professor Sir Ian Boyd, to help position it as a global leader in creating environmental solutions.

Sir Ian was chief scientific officer to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) from 2012-2019. He was knighted in last year’s Birthday Honours for his services to science and economics on food and the environment.

The University of St Andrews has committed to become carbon neutral for its energy use by 2025 and in 2016 commissioned a £25 million biomass and energy centre on its Eden Campus site.

Sustainability board

Sir Ian, a marine and polar scientist whose career has focused on the management of human impact on the environment, will head up a dedicated Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB). This will bring together the University’s existing climate research expertise and knowledge research to produce a set of environmental targets, develop a strategy to achieve them, and act as an advisory board to ensure future plans are developed sustainably.

Staff members and students will be tasked with identifying ways in which the University can overhaul its approach to resources, ethical investments and carbon use.

‘Significant challenge’

“This will in no uncertain terms present a significant challenge, particularly to an international institution that attracts people to Scotland from around the world and aims to participate in global debates,” said Sir Ian said.

“St Andrews has already made progress towards carbon neutrality with the implementation of a biomass energy plant at Guardbridge and moves towards greener energy. However, there is significant work to be done and the University of St Andrews as a global leader in research must play its part in tackling the impact of humanity on our natural resources.”

Ian’s role is not only to harness the best of us, but to challenge us as an institution, and as individuals – Professor Sally Mapstone

Principal Professor Sally Mapstone added: “We are striving to become carbon neutral, we were amongst the first to introduce academic programmes on sustainable development, our research portfolio is blessed by a range of important projects responding to climate change, and our students, staff, and townsfolk have taken to the streets and the beaches to demonstrate for action.

“It’s clear to me however that we can do more as a university to show leadership and drive change in this key area of social responsibility.

“Ian’s role is not only to harness the best of us, but to challenge us as an institution, and as individuals, and I expect and hope that this will be a subject which promotes widespread and robust debate across our community.”

Professor Sir Ian Boyd’s CV includes the roles of science programme director with the British Antarctic Survey and chief scientist to the Behavioural Response Study for the US Navy. He also worked on the creation of the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews and the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS).

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