Maynooth Campus has been awarded the prestigious An Taisce Green Campus Flag for the second time, recognising its progress in areas such as carbon emission reduction and advances in sustainability.
A flag-raising ceremony was held last Monday to mark the achievement and was attended by staff, students, Maynooth Student Union representatives, An Taisce, and a local community group.
The ceremony was opened by Maynooth University President, Professor Eeva Leinonen, who thanked the Maynooth Green Campus committee for their efforts in leading the application.
“Maynooth University has always been at the forefront of the sustainability agenda. Our dedication to advancing this important cause is embodied by the Maynooth Green Campus initiative, a voluntary committee that brings together staff and students from Maynooth University and St Patrick’s Pontifical University, local community members and the Catholic world development agency, Trócaire, which is based on our campus,” Prof Leinonen said.
The President also acknowledged the importance of such awards in showcasing progress in areas central to the University’s new Strategic Plan.
“The comprehensive range of themes (covered in the application) aligns with our recently launched Strategic Plan, which designates Sustainability and Climate Change as an interdisciplinary research priority, with infrastructure and sustainability serving as key enablers in helping us to achieve our vision.” She concluded: “Today, as we celebrate our progress, let us not forget that there is more work to be done.”
Receiving the flag was Maynooth Green Campus Chairperson and lead applicant Dr Jim Carolan of the Department of Biology and Human Health Institute, who thanked his MGC colleagues for their tireless work gathering the information required for the application.
He also acknowledged “the fantastic network that has evolved across our campuses, involving management, staff, students and local partners, all working together to adopt sustainable and green practices to improve our environment. Days like today make it all worthwhile”.
An Taisce representatives visited campus in September to reassess the application before approving the renewal of the flag, with judges assessing progress in the implementation of our sustainability and climate action goals and the development of links to learning and to student and local community groups.
“The panel were most impressed with the content of the application and the clear demonstration of work achieved on campus. They praised the Grounds Department’s work particularly in the area of biodiversity.
“The wildflower and meadow areas are incredible, and the monitoring of pollinators is also admirable – an incredible resource not just for the campus itself but for the surrounding community,” Gráinne Ryan, panel member and An Taisce’s Climate Action Programme Manager, said.
She also praised the removal of all pesticides from land management practices and the edible garden. “All in all, the biodiversity measures in place were jaw-dropping, the only thing missing was maybe a pond or two,” Ryan said in her feedback.
Claire Patten, another panel member and Senior Green Schools Biodiversity Officer at An Taisce, noted the “strong links between student bodies and the wider community”. She made some suggestions for future work such as the creation of a seed library and building connections with other local allotments/school gardens.
Maynooth Campus received its first Green Flag in 2018, when it was assessed under themes such as biodiversity, energy, waste, water, transport, and climate justice. This time, the University showcased its efforts in a number of new areas such as health and wellbeing and sustainable food and agriculture, building on the expertise and research of its academics and staff such as Dr Ronan Foley of the Department of Geography and the ALL Institute and Dr Patricia Healy-Kettle of the Office of the Dean of Teaching and Learning.
MU was also a finalist in two categories – the Sustainability Champion (Staff) and the 2030 Climate Action categories -- of the Green Gown Awards UK & Ireland, which was announced in Liverpool on November 30. The Green Gown Awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.