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30th October 2022 Peter Nitsche-Whitfield, Sustainability Coordinator

Introducing Exeter’s first Sustainability Coordinator

In September Peter Nitsche-Whitfield became Exeter College's first Sustainability Coordinator, a role we believe to be the first dedicated to sustainability among Oxford's colleges.

On 1 September I started my new role as Sustainability Coordinator at Exeter College, Lincoln College and Corpus Christi College. This is the first time that any Oxford college has created a post solely dedicated to sustainability. By creating a shared role between these three colleges, it will be possible to capitalise on learnings from each of the three historic institutions (founded in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, respectively), institutions which share many challenges and opportunities.

I am returning to Oxford after having completed my undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Benet’s Hall in 2019. After leaving Oxford, I worked for GermanZero, an NGO which campaigns for Germany to become climate-neutral by 2035. During my time working for GermanZero as Research and Policy Advisor I co-authored a climate action plan with academics and leading climate scientists, giving me an insight into the policies needed to implement an ecological transition in all sectors from transport to energy. Following this, I went on to do a master’s in economics with a focus on sustainable development and the ecological transition in Vienna, Paris and Brussels.

I am now looking forward to helping guide Exeter College along its journey towards sustainability. I believe it is vital to address sustainability holistically by tackling all the dimensions of our ecological crises from the climate emergency, biodiversity collapse, land and resource use, to waste and pollution. Reducing the ecological impacts of Exeter’s operations will thus be my main field of work. This will mean addressing Exeter’s energy use and building stock, travel patterns, food procurement and waste as well as land use and biodiversity. In this, I aim to strengthen the links between town and gown on issues of sustainability and support the global role that Exeter plays for the sustainability transition through its research on sustainability and education of future decision-makers.

Since I have only just started, I am still collecting data and working on understanding Exeter’s operations in order to develop key priorities for action. Nonetheless, I have already identified a key priority in reducing energy use to bring down emissions and reduce the College’s expenditure. This will allow Exeter to play its part in tackling both the climate and energy crises at the same time. To find out more about my work in the months to come, keep an eye out for more sustainability updates on the Exeter website and other College publications.


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