Environment and Human Health Focus of Conference

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Wednesday, 30 January - Friday, 1 February

Public invited to keynote lecture by Tony Juniper, top international environmentalist and author of the new book ‘What has Nature ever done for us?’

Over 300 researchers will gather in NUI Galway on 30 January for a three-day conference called ENVIRON2013. The theme of the conference is ‘Environment: From Ecosystem Functioning to Human Health’.

“Human health and wellbeing is achieved and maintained through our interactions with the world around us. Clean air, clean drinking water, safe food, good quality soils, and smart land use are essential elements in achieving good health and wellbeing”, according to Dr Martina Prendergast, convenor of ENVIRON2013 and Strategic Development Manager of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research at NUI Galway.

“This year we have included five activities of the conference that are open and free to the general public. Those interested in issues such as the future of energy usage in Ireland, air pollution, or how nature can benefit health, are welcome to come along and join us for the public sessions,” added Dr Prendergast.

The conference will challenge delegates to consider how their research can contribute to providing a healthier planet and thereby a healthier society. The event is the 23rd Irish Environmental Researchers’ Colloquium, and is co-hosted by the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway in association with the Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland (ESAI).

Free events open to the public
While access to the main conference is subject to a delegate fee, ENVIRON2013 will feature five free events open to the general public. These will include a public debate, a keynote address by environmentalist Tony Juniper, a career exhibition, a memorial lecture and a photography and art exhibition.

  • Public Debate: A Q&A style panel debate on the topic of ‘Securing Ireland’s Energy Future’ will take place onWednesday, 30 January, from 8-10pm in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway and will be preceded at 7.30pm by refreshments. Duncan Stewart, presenter of the RTÉ programme Eco Eye will moderate the debate which will cover a wide array of topics such as energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, CO2 emissions, power, heat, transport, fuel imports/energy security, and the creation of energy-related jobs.

    Members of the six-person panel include: Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Green Party and former Minister for Energy, Communications and Natural Resources; Colm deBurca, Manager of Ocean Energy at ESB International; Pat Swords, Engineer and Environmental Campaigner; Brian Barrett, Senior Executive with Galway County Council; Emeritus Professor Phillip Walton, Physicist and member of the Irish pro-nuclear lobby group BENE (Better Environment with Nuclear Energy); and Dr Eimear Cotter, Senior Manager with EPA’s Climate Change and Environmental Research Unit.
  • Keynote Lecture: The keynote lecture on Thursday, 31January will be delivered at 9.30am by Tony Juniper who is one of the top ten international environmental figures of the last 30 years and who has a new book out this month called ‘What has Nature ever done for us?’ He will speak about ‘Nature for Health - Opportunities for People and the Environment’. Tony Juniper is a British campaigner, writer, sustainability advisor and leading environmentalist recognised among other activities for his work as Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and as Vice-Chair of Friends of the Earth International from 2000-2008.
  • Career Expo: The conference will feature the ‘ENVIRON Career Expo and CV advice shop’. Attendees will meet representatives from NGOs, environmental consultancies, research institutes, and semi-state bodies who are all actively recruiting positions. Attendees can discuss job opportunities, internships, post-doctorate and PhD programmes, and receive free expert career advice. All members of the public are welcome to bring along their CVs. The career expo takes place in the foyer of the Bailey Allen Hall on Thursday, 31 January, from 1-5pm.
  • Memorial Lecture: Professor S. Gerard Jennings, Emeritus Professor of Experimental Physics and former Director of the Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway will deliver a lecture remembering the former Professor of Physics, Tom O’Connor (RIP), who passed away in November 2012. The late Professor O’Connor dedicated decades of his career to making important contributions to the fields of atmospheric physics, aerosol science, occupational hygiene, and the history of science. In what was a prolific career, he was instrumental in the setting up of the Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station, located on the west coast near Carna, Co. Galway. Since he took the first readings at Mace Head in 1958 it has grown to become one of the most important sites for atmospheric research in the Northern hemisphere, with its data used by climatologists and modellers around the world to predict global climate change.
  • Photography and Art Exhibition: Throughout the conference, a photography exhibition in the foyer of the Bailey Allen Hall will feature entries received for the ENVIRON 2013 photography competition. In addition, the French artist, Francois Gunning, will have an exhibition of 20 of his pieces on display during the Thursday and Friday of the conference. Francois paints pictures and builds sculptures using recycled materials and plastic debris found on the sea shore and along the coast on beaches.  

To find out full details and access a schedule for all events associated with this conference, visit http://www.esaiweb.org/environ/public-event/

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Keywords: Press

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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