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08th December 2023 Abdulhakeem Ibraheem Abdulkareem (2023, MPP)

Racing Towards a Sustainable Future: Nico Rosberg speaks at Cohen Quad

Exeter College MPP student Abdulhakeem Abdulkareem reports on a fascinating talk held at Cohen Quad in Michaelmas Term.

On 23 October, the Oxford SDG Impact Lab, which supports Oxford graduate students in advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), held an exciting conversation at Exeter College’s Cohen Quad. The conversation featured the Co-Founder of Oxford SDG Impact Lab, Edward Brooks and former Formula One racer and World Champion Nico Rosberg. The discussion offered a glimpse into Rosberg’s life and commitment to sustainability. 

In the world of Formula One, where speed and precision reign supreme, Nico Rosberg emerged not only as a formidable racer but also as a visionary for a sustainable future. Beyond the roar of engines and the thrill of victory, Rosberg’s journey from the asphalt of Grand Prix tracks to the forefront of environmental advocacy is nothing short of inspiring. 

Nico Rosberg’s Formula One (F1) journey commenced with Williams in 2006, showcasing not just racing prowess but also an exceptional engineering aptitude. Transitioning to Mercedes in 2010, he partnered with Michael Schumacher and secured his maiden victory at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix. His pivotal years unfolded alongside childhood friend and racing partner Lewis Hamilton, with whom he shared an intense on-track rivalry. In 2016, Rosberg reached the zenith of his career, clinching the Drivers’ World Championship and then announcing his unexpected retirement, the first reigning champion to retire since the legendary Alain Prost in 1993. 

Post-retirement, recognising the power of sports personalities in driving social change, Rosberg embarked on a mission to marry athleticism with sustainability. 

On 16 February 2023, Nico Rosberg’s non-profit, Rosberg Philanthropies, and the Oxford SDG Impact Lab announced a partnership to support graduate students in devising novel solutions to persisting environmental challenges. The inaugural beneficiaries of support from Rosberg Philanthropies include Varun Shankar, a DPhil student in Engineering Sciences. Shankar is collaborating with Finnish renewable fuels manufacturer Neste to evaluate the viability of sustainable fuels in the maritime sector, specifically conducting a life-cycle analysis of the St Helena freight ship. Additionally, Nishant Chauhan, a DPhil Earth Sciences student, is teaming up with The Ocean Cleanup to spearhead inventive approaches for optimising plastic collection. Lastly, John Chua, who completed the one-year Master of Public Policy in 2023, worked with Climeworks to examine the policy landscape and market readiness in the UK for direct air capture—an innovative technology designed to extract carbon dioxide directly from the air.  

Beyond Oxford, Rosberg’s impact resonates through investments in ground-breaking start-ups like Lilium, Volocopter, What3Words, Tier, and Chargepoint. A shareholder in the all-electric racing series Formula E, Rosberg continues to fuel innovation and progress in the sustainable tech landscape. 

Nico Rosberg’s journey from racing champion to sustainability advocate serves as a beacon of inspiration. His story transcends the racecourse, showing us that even the fastest laps can lead to lasting change. 

Oxford SDG Impact Lab, Edward Brooks and Formula One racer Nico Rosberg at Cohen Quad

Nico Rosberg (right) in conversation with Edward Brooks

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