Remarks by President John J. DeGioia
Sustainable Agriculture and the Future of Food: Introduction of The Prince of Wales
May 4, 2011
Your royal highness, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Georgetown University.
We are deeply honored to host His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, especially just five days after the joyous occasion of his son’s marriage. Please allow me to extend my congratulations, Your Highness.
Today, his Royal Highness will discuss a topic of national and global significance: the role of sustainable agriculture in addressing the world’s most pressing issues, from environmental sustainability, to global poverty, to economic security. It is a great privilege to serve as a venue both for our nation and for The Academy, both of which strive to address the challenges of sustainability.
It is an honor to be part of today’s larger conference on “The Future of Food,” which has brought together some of the world’s leading thinkers to contribute their knowledge and perspective to this important topic.
Georgetown last had the opportunity to host His Royal Highness in the fall of 2005, when he participated in a seminar on faith and social responsibility. Since then, significant developments have been made in the field of sustainability, with heightened focus placed today on the impact of globalization on responsible consumption of our world’s shared resources.
The Prince of Wales has been a visionary leader in addressing this issue for nearly thirty years. He has been one of the world’s most innovative and admired advocates of sustainable agriculture, ecosystem resilience and green energy sources.
His leadership can be seen in numerous spheres, from his revolutionary decision in the early 1980s to pursue only sustainable, organic practices in the Highgrove Gardens and Duchy Home Farm; to his stewardship of organizations committed to sustainability in the United Kingdom; to his extensive publications, including his most recent book, The Elements of Organic Gardening, and his 2010 documentary, Harmony; to his advocacy on a global scale through initiatives like The International Sustainability Unit.
His Royal Highness recently captured one of the primary issues driving today’s dialogue on sustainable practices, in a speech delivered to the European Parliament during the Low Carbon Prosperity Summit in February. He discusses the pressing need for a new framework to organize our approach to sustainability, saying:
“We need to meet the challenge of decoupling economic growth from increased consumption in such a way that both the wellbeing of Nature’s ecology and our own economic needs do not suffer…. If we do not think about creating such a framework and resolve that central dilemma soon, then I fear we are in for a very rough ride indeed.”
The Prince of Wales’ emphasis on the interconnections between sustainability, economic growth and our future, make this an inspirational approach, and one that resonates deeply with our work at Georgetown. We similarly understand that our actions as consumers have a direct impact on the physical and economic sustainability of this University, and have developed initiatives prioritizing responsible consumption in response.
We have committed, for example, to cutting Georgetown’s carbon emissions by half by 2020, and to adopting a building standard of LEED Silver for all new constructions and major renovations on campus. Our dining services have pursued aggressive waste-reduction programs, composting 90% of all dining waste and using 100% of used fryer oil to process into biodiesel fuel. And we have joined with nearly thirty other leading universities from throughout the world to sign the Sustainable Campus Charter, which memorializes each of our commitment to reporting annually on meeting our sustainability goals.
Our world’s universities have a shared responsibility to engage the questions and challenges posed by the urgent need to adopt more sustainable practices and to cultivate more resilient ecosystems.
We not only must lead by example, but must also engage our students in learning and discovery that will help them to become agents of change capable of creating new frameworks for our future wellbeing. We must inspire our graduates to go on to provide the innovative solutions that will allow all of us to live in harmony with our neighbors and our planet.
Your Royal Highness, once again, we are honored that you have joined us this morning to speak with us about these challenges. Welcome to Georgetown University.