It was announced earlier this month that AIB is entering a partnership with University College Cork which will involve the bank funding The AIB Chair of Sustainable Business, this is the first of its kind in Ireland.
AIB has pledged €1.25 million over the next five years to support and implement the objectives of The AIB Chair of Sustainable Business. This project is set to be based in the Cork University Business School (CUBS), which is Ireland’s largest business school.
It was also announced that the funding will support The AIB Sustainable Business Scholars programme; which is established for early career researchers who excel in their field.
The establishment of the Chair comes at an extremely pertinent time, given the increased demand of employers for graduates with a broad knowledge, understanding and experience of sustainable business practices.
Chief Executive Officer of AIB, Colin Hunt, said, “AIB has put sustainability at the heart of our strategy. We are aligned with UCC’s vision to educate and guide business leaders who can balance environmental, social and governance goals with the ambition of delivering sustainable profits.”
Mr. Hunt underscored the pivotal challenge that climate change poses to the business sector: “Managing climate change is the most important challenge facing this generation, and the role of businesses in supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy is pivotal. I firmly believe that we must not hand this planet on to our children in a worse condition than it was handed to us.”
“Green lending is proving to be the fastest growing part of our loan book and has also proven the most resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic underscoring that sustainability is also smart business,’’ he added.
Interim President of UCC, Professor John O’Halloran spoke of the emphasis placed on sustainability within the ethos of UCC and the donation from AIB to further advance the development of future industry leaders in the area of sustainability.
“A decade ago we charted a course to be a world leading university in the area of sustainability. We must inspire the leaders who can shape our future for the better and at UCC we are driving research that assists our transition to a low carbon economy,” the Interim President said.
“We are incredibly grateful to AIB for this generous gift which will facilitate the development and empowerment of future leaders in sustainability through the university’s research, teaching and learning activities. This partnership strengthens our objective of creating a sustainability culture that is student-led, research-informed, and practice-focused”.
Alongside this partnership, University College Cork aims to deliver a world-class business school experience, having recently announced it would invest €110 million in a new business campus located in the heart of Cork City. Planning permission has already been granted for the development. Speaking prior to Covid-19, Dean of CUBS, Thia Hennessy, said a design team would begin to work on the proposal, and suggested a date for moving in could be the start of the academic year in 2022 or 2023. It is not yet known what impact Covid-19 will have on the project.
UCC is ranked as an international leader in the area of sustainability and the AIB Chair will support the UCC strategy of enabling and empowering the next generation of responsible business leaders, as well as accelerating world-leading environmental research in Ireland. There will be an international recruitment process for the Chair, who will drive innovative research in the field of sustainability, develop sector leading new post-graduate programmes in sustainable business and who will work together with businesses seeking to drive sustainability across their organisation.
It is hoped this partnership will demonstrate the impact of corporate philanthropy in enabling the university to advance its sustainability goals, while enhancing the student experience and improving graduate employability prospects.