Johnny Duncan (3rd year BCom) has been newly elected into the UCSA General Executive for 2016. He will be heading up the Post Graduate portfolio but he also has a strong interest in sustainability issues. We had a quick chat to him about his aspirations …
Congratulations, Johnny! So … what got you interested in sustainability and what does it mean to you? Well, I grew up in Asia, I spent 3 years in Manila (Philippines), and 3 years in Seoul (South Korea), as well as various other places. And I could not get over the pollution in those two countries. In the Philippines it was the rubbish, it was everywhere, I’ve seen beaches where you can’t see the water. South Korea was different, Seoul was a bit cleaner than the Philippines, but the pollution there was still horrendous. Growing up in these places and coming home to New Zealand and seeing the polar opposite here has made me passionate about preserving what our country has, as well as playing our part as global citizens to help others.
Sustainability to me means preparing for future, if we want to ‘sustain’ and last we must prepare accordingly. In this case it means looking after our environment, cutting down our CO2 emissions and renewing/rationing our resources.
What are your aspirations for your time as an exec? I want students at UC to have the opportunity to enjoy their time at UC as much as I have enjoyed mine. But also I want to give students the opportunity to make a difference.
Have you had a thought about what sustainability issues (or initiatives) you would like to address (or promote) on campus? Paper wastage is a huge issue on campus, if there would be a way to encourage people to recycle or reuse their paper that would be great. I also want to tie in sustainability initiatives with clubs as I believe this a great way to get more students on campus involved.
What are your sustainability-related aspirations for the student union? For starters I’d like to try reduce the carbon emissions of the UCSA, this is quite a broad goal but I will try to find a way to accomplish this. Secondly I’d like to get some carbon neutral paper into circulation around campus, currently the library doesn’t use carbon neutral paper so I want to talk to them to see what I can do about getting this changed. I am open to more ideas on how to make the UCSA a bit more eco friendly.
A few years back, the UCSA had a sustainability portfolio that they were working on, have you had a look at that? It is quite difficult to find information on where they got to with the sustainability portfolio, which will require some more investigation. What I have managed to get my hands on is the UCSA’s sustainability policy, which is quite an interesting document that could use some more publicity.
You have been actively involved in OpSoc, one of the newest eco clubs on campus, what was your role there and what are you taking away from that experience sustainability-wise? Last year I was social representative for OpSoc, and this year I was the president. So I’ve gone from helping out with a bit of everything and doing a lot of promo to running the entire show. It was a big step up in responsibility but I loved every second of it. Sustainability- wise I just think that big clubs can make more of difference as at the moment a lot of small clubs pick up the workload.
Do you see a role for UC clubs in contributing to UCs sustainability journey? Absolutely, I think clubs have the biggest pull in terms of getting people together and enthused about a project or event, so using the clubs we can hopefully get more people involved in sustainability projects and practices through their member bases.
We’re here to support you if we can! Is there any way in which the Sustainability Office can support you in achieving your goals? I’m open to all ideas on ways to cut down the UCSA’S CO2 emissions so if you have any creative ways to do this then please let me know!
Thanks Johnny, we wish you all the very best in your endeavours and look forward to working with you in 2016.
Interested in a UC club with a sustainability focus? Check out some ideas here.