Global Change Institute to address rapid change

Posted by Josette Dunn on 12th March 2010

A major new international research institute that will address the problems of a rapidly changing world and develop innovative solutions was launched in Brisbane on Wednesday night.Her Excellency Dr Penelope Wensley AO, Governor of Queensland, launched The University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute (GCI) while delivering the inaugural UQ Centenary Oration at Brisbane Customs House.

Three focus areas for research at the GCI will mirror some of the most urgent areas: water sensitive cities, climate change and food security.Director of the Global Change Institute Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said “The GCI is about helping the communities of a changing world to find long-term sustainable solutions.

“What is exciting about this challenge is that many of the technologies and approaches already exist. All we need to do is to work out how to implement them.”

“The new building to house the GCI will be an example of modern “green” technology in action. Made possible by a $15M gift by philanthropist Graeme Wood, it will employ sustainable design, construction and operating practices, including Australia’s largest solar photo-voltaic grid electricity generator. This alone will reduce the St Lucia Campus’s peak electricity consumption by six percent and carbon emissions by 1.14 kt CO2e per annum.”

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said: “One of the big signatures of our time is the ever quickening pace and scale of change.”

“In terms of global population growth alone, the numbers are nothing short of breathtaking,” he said.

“In the space of just 30 years, 3 billion people have been added to the population of the earth. In the next 30 years we will add yet another 3 billion people.

“The problem comes down to the fact that the number and aspirations of people are increasing, while our ability to provide the essentials such as food, water and energy are decreasing. ‘In a nutshell’ increased population size and per capita consumption threaten to overrun resource demand at many scales. Some major new thinking is in order.”

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said the current generation of young university graduates was keen to accept the challenges and to think outside the box.

“Their passion about these global issues is not surprising,” he said.

“After all, the problems created by current and previous generations will soon mature, necessitating future generations to find the solutions.”