Sustainability: Enabling a Transdisciplinary Approach
In 2012 the international community will celebrate 20 years of Agenda 21, the guiding vision agreed to by 179 nations at the Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Since then the idea of sustainable development has been discussed at uncountable gatherings around the world and numerous activities – in academia, politics, civil society as well as the private sector – have been initiated to bring the idea of sustainability to life. Interconnected sustainability challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, economic and social instability are however still with us – and some of them are becoming increasingly serious. The institutionalization of sustainability as a regulative idea has only started in some spheres of activity and some areas of the world.
To achieve transitions towards sustainability, continuous inquiry, learning, and adaptation is needed. And this requires science to go beyond disciplinary – and even interdisciplinary – approaches. By bringing about mutual learning, collaborative research, and problem solving among business, government and civil society, transdisciplinarity can serve as an important guiding concept for sustainability science and practice. Over the last 10 years, progress has been made to better understand and design the interface between sustainability science and transdisciplinarity. The conference focuses on three leading questions:
- What insights about the role of transdisciplinarity for sustainability transitions have we gained over the last 10 years?
- What gaps in research still remain?
- How can we fill these gaps?
These guiding questions will focus the debates in workshops, plenary and parallel sessions in four topical areas: Biodiversity, Global Sustainability, Education, and Corporate Sustainability.
At the conference leading researchers, particularly in sustainability, and high-level decision-makers will meet in a transdisciplinary setting with a goal of creating new insights to help move sustainability forward. Keynote speakers from civil society, politics, and business will be among others (in alphabetical order):
- Kersten-Karl Barth (Director Sustainability, Siemens AG)
- Anette Diekmann (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Natur und Umweltbildung, Germany, tbc)
- Karl Friedrich Falkenberg (ES Brussels, Secretary-General EU-Commission, European Civil Service Environment)
- Jochen Flasbarth (President, Nature and Biodiversity conversation Union Germany, NABU)
- Hans van Ginkel (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
- Gerhard de Haan (Free University of Berlin, Germany)
- Tim Jackson (Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, UK)
- Thomas Jahn (Institute for Socio-Ecological Research, ISOE Frankfurt, Germany)
- Ingrid Jung (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Germany)
- Lenelis Kruse-Graumann (University of Heidelberg, Germany)
- Daniel Lang (Leuphana University)
- Joris Lenssen (Academy of Business in Society/EABIS)
- Pim Martens (Scientific Director ICIS, Maastricht University, Netherlands)
- Lennart Olsson (Centre for Sustainability Studies, Lund University, Sweden)
- Franz Rauch (University of Klagenfurt, Austria)
- John Robinson (Executive director of the University of British Columbia, UBC, Canada)
- Stefan Schaltegger (Centre for Sustainability Management, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany)
- Roland W. Scholz (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, ETH Zürich, Switzer- land)
- Georg Schütte (State Secretary Federal Ministry of Education and Research)
- Ingrid Sehrbrock (The Confederation of German Trade Unions, Germany, tbc)
- Paul Shrivastava (Director David O’Brien Center for Sustainable Enterprise, Concordia University Montreal, Canada)
- Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democratic Party of Germany, tbc)
- Stephen Sterling (University of Plymouth, United Kingdom)
- Mace Vaughan, Xerces Society (Director Pollinator program, Portland/OR, USA)
- Peter Viessmann (Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, Germany)
- Arnim Wiek (Arizona State University, USA)
- Ulrich Witte (Deutsche Bundestiftung Umwelt, Germany)
- Angelika Zahrnt (The German Council for Sustainable Development, RNE)