What do you want to achieve during your term?
I envision a waste-less and more energy-efficient campus, with graduates more aware of environmental issues both when they are in Cambridge and after graduation.
What experience do you bring to the role?
First, I am familiar with the dynamics of leading environmental campaigns on campus, because I took similar roles as an undergraduate when I was studying in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. It taught me how to strike the balance between being ambitious and staying realistic – it helps to lead efficient and effective campaigns.
Second, I am aware of the cultural differences for leading environmental campaigns among this very international community at Cambridge. Personally, I have lived and worked in mainland China, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and the United States, on top of travelling to 25 other countries. I understand, for example, recycling is not something you would naturally think of if you have been raised in a country with lousy waste collection services. These differences need to be taken into account during planning and implementing the campaigns.
Last but not least, my work experience and learning count. I am a civil engineer by profession before I came to Cambridge, and I am here to study an MPhil in environmental policy. Previous work experience has taught me how to analyse and solve problems, and the current learning would tune me for better tackling environmental issues.
How would you like to collaborate with Environmental Officers in the MCRs?
I would like to enhance the communication and promote collaboration among Environmental Officers in the MCRs. I hope to arrange meetings where different MCRs could exchange green ideas and best environmental practices for collaborative initiatives. I also notice that there are many environment-focused student societies in Cambridge. I would outreach to them for possible collaboration.
What ideas do you have for campaigns and events in the coming year?
One of the ideas I have is to run a series of workshops introducing the “life” of our wastes. A lot of us do not recycle, and those who do may not have been doing it in the correct way. By introducing the “life” of our wastes, people could be inspired to produce wastes more responsibly. As each year GU is welcoming a lot of one-year MPhil students, it would be beneficial to document these guidelines and encourage MCRs to include them in the orientation documents they distribute to new members in the future.
I have to admit that I am still new to this campus and I would keep my eyes and ears open to environmental issues for campaign and event ideas.
Should Environmental Officers focus on influencing individuals’ behaviour or institutional policies?
Influencing individuals’ behaviour and institutional policies should both be the responsibilities of an Environmental Officer. For the upcoming session, I believe that more attention should be placed on influencing individuals’ behaviour because we have not quite achieved what the institution policies have been targeted for. Take waste reduction as an example, it would be pointless to increase the target percentage of waste recycling while individuals are still confused standing in front of recycling bins and end up throwing the wrong things into the wrong bins. In the upcoming year, I would like to focus on bridging the gap between individuals’ behaviour and the prevailing guidelines, while at the same time propose more practical and sustainable policies whenever necessary.