Welcome to the International Conference on Resource Sustainability

Good morning, everyone, and a warm welcome to the University of Surrey.
It’s wonderful to see so many of you here at this exciting conference on resource sustainability.

The icRS conference series was developed largely to have a regular meeting for the community of the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling.

Although we have successfully held this event continuously since 2018, this is the first in-person conference after the pandemic and it is fantastic to have so many academics from so many different countries in such a diverse audience.

I would like to extend an especially warm welcome to the keynote speakers who are here today:

• Gordon Huang
• Zhijun Jin
• Sara Walker
• Yang Xia

And Rutger Hoekstra and Joanne Wade, will also be delivering keynote speeches later in the conference.

I would also like to offer my thanks and congratulations to Dr Lirong Liu and Professor Ming Xu for making this conference a reality.

We gather here with a shared vision and a collective determination to address the most pressing challenges of our time.

The triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste continue to be compounded by widening inequality, the war in Ukraine and the instability of food and energy prices.

When these challenges begin to feel overwhelming, I return to an old saying: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Sustainability is not just about conserving resources for future generations, but about being prepared.

Or, to put it another way, “Dig the well before you are thirsty.”

It is also about realizing that our resources are limited and so we must find innovative ways to use them efficiently and responsibly.

It is a privilege for me to be your host for this conference – so let me tell you why and a bit about the University of Surrey.

Besides research, sustainability is what we preach and practice at Surrey.

We are a world-class university, with dual excellence in both teaching and research, as well as high impact in sustainability as we aim to become Net Zero by 2030.

We produce high quality graduates, and generate tangible social, economic and environmental impact.

We are pioneering new ways to address sustainability by connecting multidisciplinary capabilities and social goals to build a better future for our world.

At the heart of this is our new pan-University institutes for Sustainability and People-Centred AI.

These institutes are at the forefront of interdisciplinary research, driving innovation and fostering collaboration.

Our new Institute for Sustainability brings together expertise in social sciences, engineering and health sciences, within the three faculties at Surrey, to develop solutions to the global challenges we face as a society.

As the Institute’s new logo conveys, this is about joining the dots to produce a tangible impact on the world.

Sustainability should be a social goal as well as an environmental one.

In my own research on hydrogen production and storage, I’ve seen the power of collaboration. Hydrogen, as a clean energy vector, holds great promise for decarbonising energy supply. The road to solar hydrogen, via a process called photocatalysis, is a promising pathway, but we’re not there yet.

Interdisciplinary collaboration can expedite our journey to sustainable solutions.

Surrey is home to an increasing number of talented researchers, and we are proud of our colleagues’ success in grants, fellowships, and recognitions. Across the campus, we also have a large number of research centres and groups working in areas ranging from clean energy, clean air and water, to sustainable prosperity, sustainable living, and sustainable tourism and transport, making significant contributions to finding solutions to the pressing challenges of resource sustainability.

We rank 46th globally in our contribution to the United Nations sustainability development goals, excelling in clean water and sanitation, and responsible consumption and production.

So, as we embark on this conference, let’s remember the urgency of our mission, but also look to the future with optimism. Let’s strive for excellence, push the boundaries of knowledge, and make a real impact on society.

The decisions we make today will shape the world we leave for future generations. Through this conference, let’s inspire each other, challenge conventional thinking, and catalyse transformative change. Let’s envision a future where resource sustainability is not just an aspiration, but a reality that forms the bedrock of our society.

Thank you for joining us at this important gathering. Together, let’s pave the way towards a more sustainable and prosperous future for all. Thank you.