Paul Walker
Chairman, Newcastle Science City
Sustainability special edition

This special edition of the NSC monthly update is dedicated to Newcastle University’s focus this year on the issue of sustainability.

Following the successful launch in 2010 of the University’s first societal challenge theme on ageing and health, 2011 sees the launch of the University’s second societal challenge theme on sustainability.

Find out below exactly what is meant by ‘Sustainability’, how Newcastle is leading the way on tackling the challenges it poses to society, what is going on across the University and how you can get involved.

Enough, for all, forever

So what do we mean by ‘Sustainability’?

Newcastle University’s definition can be stated in just four words: Enough, For all, Forever.

‘Enough’ means sufficiency, but not the wasteful excess which currently characterises society in Europe, North America and wealthy pockets of the developing world.

It’s when we ask “Enough of what?” that the specific science and engineering issues arise:

  • Enough energy?
  • Enough food?
  • Enough shelter?
  • Enough water?

Newcastle University has the expertise to offer novel solutions in these and many other sectors.

‘For all’ refers not only to humans but also to other living beings in our shared ecosystems.

‘Forever’ signals respect for natural resource limitations, as well as the pursuit of justice between present and future generations.

Digging deep for answers

The University’s Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS) has obtained major funding from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the British Geological Survey and Northumbrian Water to drill deep under the heart of Newcastle in search of geothermal energy.

The borehole is designed to explore strata associated with one of the UK’s largest geological fault zones – the so-called Ninety Fathom-Stublick Fault Zone – which shows signs of hosting hot groundwater.

If successful, this exploration borehole will take the risk out of detailed design to incorporate deep geothermal energy into the overall energy plan for Science Central and adjoining districts, including Eldon Square, the UK’s largest city centre indoor shopping mall.

Global sustainability stage beckons

The expertise of NIReS is assisting with preparations for the Earth Summit of world leaders – entitled Rio+20 – to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.

This has come about through NIReS’ close partnership with the Planet Earth Institute (PEI), which was established as a global organisation in the wake of the UNESCO ‘International Year of Planet Earth’ in 2009.

PEI is organising many of the global roundtables as a key element of the preparations for Rio+20.

Professor Paul Younger, Director of NIReS, has been appointed President of the Global Scientific Committee of the PEI.

In this capacity, Professor Younger has already been a featured speaker at the Global Sustainability Forum in Amazonas, Brazil, one of a number of conferences being held across the globe in the run up to Rio+20. Other speakers featured at the Global Sustainability Forum included former US President Bill Clinton, former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson.

Food sustainability lecture

The challenge of delivering a healthy and sustainable diet in the 21st Century is the subject of a public lecture being given by David Gregory, chairman of Assured Food Standards, on Wednesday, October 19.

The lecture forms the culmination of a day-long event on research taking place across Newcastle University’s Human Nutrition Research Centre.

The lecture will take place at the University’s Research Beehive, located in the Old Library Building. For further information on the event, or to register, please visit

Newcastle Science City
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Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JH