SABio at the WWU Sustainability Day “Campus Earth”

On October 20th, the University of Münster hosted the Sustainability Day “Campus Earth” for the first time. From now on this action day is planned to be an annual event at the University. The programme includes lectures, citizen dialogues, workshops and mobile laboratories to gain insights into the interdisciplinary research linked to a sustainability transformation. Within this framework, various WWU institutions, organisations and research groups presented themselves and their current projects to the public.

The SABio research group participated in this event by presenting their work during the day at the exhibition space and organizing an open discussion round on the topics of bioeconomy and sustainability. This World Café was organized together with the Brazil Centre, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Sustainability Research (ZIN) and the Institutes of Political Science and Landscape Ecology.

The event aimed to debate topics such as resource dependencies and the sustainability performance of bioeconomies in South America. More specifically, the World Café aimed to open a debate about problems and possible solutions of bio-based transformations in South America. The participants were invited to question their own roles and talk about international interconnections. To facilitate the exchange of the participants with various backgrounds, each participant had the opportunity to speak in their language of preference (German, English, Spanish or Portuguese). Still, in the end, everyone was able to communicate in English and only smaller translations had to be provided.

A total of 10-15 people not only of different languages but also of different age groups participated in the World Café. After a short introduction by Dr Karen Siegel (Head of the research group in political science at the University of Münster and ZIN member) and Prof. Tillmann Buttschardt (ZIN and Institute of Landscape Ecology, University of Münster), the three early-career researchers of the SABio group in political science gave short inputs about their work.

The presentations opened three discussion rounds, focusing on current debates on bio-based transformations in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. The participants then discussed these questions at three different tables together with the researchers present and the results were captured on post-its. After the first round of discussion, the participants changed places so that new group constellations could be formed, which positively affected the discussions and the results achieved, as new perspectives and experiences could be shared.  Finally, the post-its were attached to flipcharts after each discussion round, creating a “result gallery“. After the event, participants were able to look at all the important keywords from the three discussion rounds and continue the debate informally. In the first round, the participants discussed the broad concept of bioeconomies and talked about the opportunities and potential to foster sustainability, based on Dr Melisa Deciancio`s presentation and the case of Argentina. More specifically, concerns about the increase in monocultures and the use of pesticides were shared during the exchange of thoughts. This led to a debate regarding the role of international regulations and certifications which may present possible solutions, but not without challenges. Matching this topic, the participants were able to discuss the role of certifications, such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, or other possible measures for more sustainability in the forestry sector during the second round. As a basis for this, Daniel Kefeli illustrated the sustainability challenges of the pulp industry and the associated forestry sector in Uruguay. The attendees highlighted the lack of monitoring mechanisms and transparency of the certification process regarding different private and public actors. Moreover, they criticized the high costs of certifications which compromises the accessibility of the labels. Finally, the last roundtable discussion was guided by Guilherme de Queiroz-Stein and focused on the concept of socio-biodiversity and case studies from Brazil. In particular, the participants talked about possible ways to ensure the inclusion and protection of indigenous people. They came up with possible solutions like land rights and financial compensations for affected populations. Furthermore, the responsibilities of the consumer, the local state, and the international organisation were discussed in that context. To close the event, Anja Grecko Lorenz, managing director of the WWU Brazil Centre, provided an overview of cooperation possibilities.