29 Nov A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Vice Chancellor, Ladies and Gentlemen, I feel I should just respond briefly to a toast which I was not quite expecting! I was so glad that it gave most of you the chance to have a stiff drink, which I am sure you needed!
For me, it has always been the greatest pleasure to come back to Cambridge and I always felt I was so lucky to be able to study at this university. It all went by in a flash! I am horrified to realise that of course, very shortly, next year, it will be fifty years since I arrived. All I can tell you is that time goes past unbelievably quickly. But I enjoyed it enormously, and well, you can look at the results now, as far as I am concerned. Quite how I survived being run over by a bus when I was on a bicycle, just outside here, I don’t know…but it was a very special experience, as most of you probably know.
My wife and I could not be more delighted, Ladies and Gentlemen, to be able to join you today in celebrating the long life of the Fitzwilliam Museum and of course the even longer life of the University Library. And so, it was a great pleasure to meet quite a few of the people involved in both of these great Cambridge institutions.
These remarkable centres of knowledge and discovery demonstrate, I think, the great contribution that academia can make to our understanding and responding to the challenges of our time. For hundreds of years this university has been a global leader in education and research for the natural world. It now has a really critical role to play to help the world respond to its most intractable challenge that is securing the sustainable future that respects and upholds the environmental limits of our planet. The academic community has a lot to offer in supporting governments, businesses and society to solve global challenges through collaboration and interdisciplinary research we can unlock the necessary action.
My old university has set a remarkable example in this regard, for instance the Cambridge Conservation Initiative is I think a remarkable collaboration between the University of Cambridge and leading internationally focused biodiversity conservation organisations clustered in and around Cambridge. The university has created a number of strategic research initiatives like the Cambridge Global Food Security Initiative, which bring together academics to address large scale multi-disciplinary global challenges. And of course, there is, as the Vice Chancellor mentioned, The Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership, showing how collaborations between academia, businesses and policy makers can actually yield results such as through my Business in Sustainability Programme which we developed more than twenty years ago which now has a network of over two thousand five hundred senior executives. And, also my Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change which has actually been at the forefront of business efforts to tackle climate change since 2005.
So, it is remarkable what this university is doing and I can only congratulate the Fitzwilliam and the Cambridge University Library in their anniversary and wish them many, many happy returns for the day.