The Sustainability Day brought together experts, practitioners, students and citizens to share knowledge and experience on tackling complex sustainability challenges. The day included a host of activities including an exhibition of sustainability related student projects, panel discussions, guided tours and seminars.
To kick-off the event heard keynote speeches from five inspiring sustainability practitioners; Minna Halme, Director of Aalto Sustainability Hub and professor of Sustainability Management at Aalto University, Dr. Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment, Ilkka Herlin, Chairman of Cargotec corporation, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of the European Parliament and EP rapporteur for circular economy and Peter Lund, Professor of New Energy Technologies at Aalto University.
Minna Halme began by reminding us of the core sustainability challenges.
“We are loosing what we want to keep and by-producing things we do not want”
Fresh water, forest, diversity of plant and animal species are in decline. Pollution, waste and levels carbon dioxide are increasing. Minna used the analogy of a high-blood pressure situation whereby the pressure being put on the environment by human intervention is reaching a critical point.
If we do not act we are heading for a heart attack which we may not recover from.
In order to address the multiple complex challenges facing the world today, from climate change to increasing inequality, knowledge and actionable solutions are not enough. Disruptive innovations combined with systemic solutions that draw on co-creative methods is essential for creating the paradigm shift required for achieving social and environmental sustainability. Human well being must be at the centre.
In the evening, the Test Site for Practical Sustainability was launched.
The Test Site is a student initiative to create an exploratory outdoor space for testing sustainable projects. At the moment a permaculture garden, solar panel, tomato juice bar and ‘gas cow’ are under construction. In the coming academic year I look forward to being responsible for external communications for the site.
Aalto Sustainability Hub is committed to building a sustainable society driven by innovation and entrepreneurship. The strategic ideas that guide their work centre on themes of circular economy, co-creation and the campus as a living lab, where sustainability research can be tested in the immediate surroundings of the University.