Chris Packham CBE delivers inspirational University lecture on building a sustainable future

Wed 08 February, 2023
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The University of Bedfordshire was excited to welcome renowned naturalist and broadcaster, Chris Packham CBE, who delivered an engaging, free public talk on the subject of sustainability, climate action and the environment, with the whole event featuring a green, no-waste policy in line with the institution’s Target Zero ambitions.

On Tuesday 31st January, a sold-out audience of more than 200 people gathered in the main lecture theatre at the University’s Luton campus, with hundreds more viewers watching the remote livestream online. After delivering his inspiring talk, Chris mingled amongst the attendees while guests were treated to a fully-vegan menu of canapes and refreshments.

During the hour-long public lecture and Q&A, Chris provided a number of thought-provoking anecdotes and advice on everything from simple sustainable changes to activism, to the future of the environment and protecting wildlife.

He also gave some top tips for how students can ‘go green’ while at university, suggesting: “This is a time to experiment in your life. Think about how you can change your mind, your life and its impact on the natural world and the environment. For example, you might come here as a full-time carnivore and recognise that transitioning towards a plant-based diet could be a useful thing for your health – and for the health of the planet.”

Professor Andrew Church, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation and the Vice Chancellor’s Executive Group lead for sustainability, reflected on the evening: “Sustainability is one of the driving forces of everything we try to do as a University and having someone such as Chris, who wholeheartedly shares these ambitions, deliver this public lecture was brilliant. It was a fantastic evening and the little touches, such as having fully vegan refreshments and food on offer, really encompassed what we are striving towards as a sustainable institution. It was great to see so many students, staff and members of the local community completely engaged in this important topic.”

As well as attendees from the University, the free event attracted lots of people from the wider community, including environmental campaigners and pupils from local schools and colleges. Representatives from local charity, The Wildlife Trust, also attended and used the opportunity to speak with guests after the talk, educating and informing curious ears about the organisation’s mission to create a wilder future by protecting and restoring wildlife and natural habitats across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Matt Sutcliffe, Communities & Education Manager for the Bedfordshire arm of The Wildlife Trust, said: “It was great to meet Chris Packham and to hear his words of warning about how much we all still need to do to combat climate change and bio-diversity loss. It was a good chance for the Wildlife Trust to meet more people in Luton and share our local community and educational activities which they take part in.”

This successful, educational event is one of the ways the University of Bedfordshire is highlighting its commitment to a sustainable future for the next generation of learners, having first launched its Target Zero campaign in January 2020 with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. In 2022 it was awarded second place in the UK and first in England in the 2022 People & Planet University Green League, as well as achieving Platinum EcoCampus status for the fourth year running and being given a Gold rating in the latest Uswitch Green University Report.

Some of the ways the University has been effectively implementing sustainability across its campuses include rainwater harvesting to flush toilets, use of cross-campus electric vans, the planting of wildflower meadows to encourage biodiversity and the introduction of solar panels.


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