Principal, Kings College London
City of London, London
"It is hard to exaggerate the problems we face"
Rick is a relative newcomer to sustainability – a historian by training, he has become actively involved in promoting sustainability since becoming Principal of King’s College three years ago. "By definition, sustainability is important - if something is unsustainable, it will eventually collapse. When this is applied to whole cities and civilisations, it becomes a very serious matter."
"We live in a place with an increasing sense of its own identity, a place of high cultural offerings, a place which people come from all over the world to work and live in." Rick believes London’s reputation as a very exciting, culturally interesting and ethnically diverse place adds to its credibility as a truly world city. "I believe we need to look backwards to appreciate that London much more forward-looking than it used to be - in the 1960’s London would not have been foreseen as the world city it is today."
Whilst Rick is optimistic about London’s prosperity continuing for another 25 years, he is concerned that if current predictions are correct, London will struggle to meet the sustainability challenges it faces in the longer term. "London is not yet equipped to deal with the predicted changes to the climate, such as increases in temperature and rising sea levels. This adds further urgency to the sustainability agenda."
King’s College was one of the first universities in the country to have 100% of its contractual electricity sourced from renewable large scale hydro generation and received the Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement ‘Green Gown’ Award for the sustainable construction methods used in the refurbishment of their historic Strand campus. Rick sees his role as promoting further sustainable practices within King’s College’s internal operations, but also using the teaching and research expertise at the College to generate more appropriate public policies to push the cause of sustainability in London. "Across the College, we have people with the skills to tackle sustainability issues, from scientists monitoring London’s air quality, through to urban climatologists and geographers, to public policy experts that interpret the evidence and develop appropriate policy solutions."
Sustainability is something Rick would like to see more promotion of in higher education and is something he believes King’s College will continue to stand for. "As a major educational institution with environmental research interests, we have a role in promoting sustainability - we must practice what we preach."
"My commitment is to promote collaborative, inter-disciplinary research to develop solutions to sustainability public policy issues. This will draw on the expertise and institutional practice within King’s College and lead to a London symposium on sustainability public policy to advocate novel, integrated solutions that can be put to regional and national Government."